Students

CS Major Gansley ’15 Hopes to Use Programming Skills to Help with Good Causes

As a service-learning project, Alicia Gansley '15 helped create a web application for the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. Gansley enjoys writing programs from the comfort of the Science Library. "This is where you're usually find me," she said.

As a service-learning project, Alicia Gansley ’15 helped create a web application for the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. Gansley enjoys writing programs from the comfort of the Science Library. “This is where you’re usually find me,” she said.

#THISISWHY
In this Q&A meet Alicia Gansley from the Class of 2015. (Story by Rosy Capron)

Q: Alicia, what are you majoring in?

A: I’m majoring in computer science and I’m also completing the economics minor and Civic Engagement Certificate.

Q: Last fall, you brought your programming knowledge to COMP 342: Software Engineering, a service-learning course where groups of Computer Science majors develop special projects for local organizations. Tell us more about your project.

A: My group made a web application for Green Street Teaching and Learning Center to use to sign students up for one of its after school programs. Our system will allow Green Street to collect students’ contact information and course preferences, as well as allow the staff to keep track of this information throughout the semester.

Q: How did the experience of working on a project for an organization differ from working on a project for a typical academic course? Were there unexpected rewards and challenges that came with having a client?

A: It was a real pleasure working closely with Sara MacSorley at Green Street and learning more about their facility and programs. Part of what struck me about working on a project for a client was the fact that you can never just say “90 percent is enough.” We needed to always figure out some way to meet their specifications, which I think pushed the team to really learn and work together. I think it was a great motivation to produce our best work, and I’m excited to think we helped such a worthy organization with a hard working staff.

Q: Now that the course has ended, what’s next for your project? Does Green Street plan to implement your work?

A: A couple of students will be hired this Spring to polish all of the projects our class produced last semester. Hopefully, Green Street will be able to implement the project in the Fall.

Q: Why did you sign up for this course?

A: I signed up for the class mainly because I am pursuing a career in software engineering and I wanted to get some formal training in that field. I wanted an opportunity to take the time to learn Ruby and Ruby on Rails. I was also interested in taking a class where we would be undertaking a large scale, team-based programming project.

Q: How has this course influenced your career interests?

A: It solidified my interest in being a software developer and made me realize how much I value teamwork. It also made me realize how much work and thought goes into good software projects. I also realized that software can be used in all kinds of organizations to solve many different problems, and I’m really interested in seeing how I can use my programming skills to promote and help with other good causes in the future.

Q: What other student groups and activities are you involved with at Wesleyan?

A: I am a publicity assistant at Wesleyan University Press and a course assistant in the Computer Science Department. I was the web editor for The Argus and a peer advisor for the Patricelli Center. I have also been involved in feminist activism on campus and was the student leader for Democracy Matters, an organization that advocates for public financing of elections.

Sociology Major, Football Player Fabien ’15 Planning to Coach, Join Special Forces after Graduation

Jay Fabien '15 and his "rescued" husky, Glacier, hang out on Citrin Field Jan. 23. Fabien, formerly a wide-receiver for the Wesleyan Cardinals Football Team, hopes to coach student-athletes after graduation and later join the U.S Army Special Forces. 

Jay Fabien ’15 and his “rescued” husky, Glacier, hang out on Citrin Field Jan. 23. Fabien, formerly a wide-receiver for the Wesleyan Cardinals Football Team, hopes to coach student-athletes after graduation and later join the U.S Army Special Forces. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

He loves “chick-flicks” and played alto-sax in high school. But he also wants to earn a spot in the Special Forces after graduation. In short, the Cardinals’ No. 80 in football has many layers. They all start and end with respect, and comfort in being himself, on and off the field.

He’s no prima donna, even though he has only played one position since he was 9 — wide receiver. Being a distraction to the team is not in his DNA.

“I’ve never been that way,” said Jay Fabien ’15. “I love all aspects of being a wide receiver.”

Israeli ’17 Speaks at Awards Gala Hosted by the Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights

Ella Israeli '17 mingled with entertainer/philanthropist Robert De Niro at the Ripple of Hope Gala and Awards Dinner, held Dec. 16 in New York City.  The event was supported by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

Ella Israeli ’17 mingled with entertainer/philanthropist Robert De Niro at the Ripple of Hope Gala and Awards Dinner, held Dec. 16 in New York City.

Two Wesleyan students and two alumni participated in the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala and Awards Dinner in New York City in December.

Ella Israeli '17, Kennedy Odede '12 and Kiley Kennedy '16 shared a group hug at the Ripple of Hope Gala. 

Ella Israeli ’17, Kennedy Odede ’12 and Kiley Kennedy ’16 shared a group hug at the Ripple of Hope Gala.

During the event, Ripple Awards were presented to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, entertainers/ philanthropists Robert De Niro and Tony Bennett, and Physicians Interactive Chairman Donato Tramuto.

Ella Israeli ’17, a government major minoring in film studies film studies, was chosen to introduce New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who presented the Ripple of Hope Award to De Niro. Israeli also spoke about her involvement in the Center’s high school curriculum participation in the center’s film contest. Her speech is online here.

Kennedy Odede ’12, founder of Shining Hope for Communities, was honored as a defender of human rights. Kiley Kennedy ’16 and Edward “Ted” Kennedy Jr. ’83, P’16 also attended the event.

View Israeli’s website, with links to her videos, here.

Everett ’15 Co-Authors Paper Published in Nature Communications

Holly Everett '15

Holly Everett ’15

A paper co-authored by molecular biology and biochemistry major Holly Everett ’15 is published in the December 2014 issue of Nature Communications. The article, titled “High-throughput detection of miRNAs and gene-specific mRNA at the single-cell level by flow cytometry,” describes a novel approach to visualizing RNA and protein simultaneously at the single cell level.

Everett has been working on the accompanying research at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.

This new technology uses gene-specific probes and a signal amplification system based on a “branched DNA” principle. The authors show that this novel flow-FISH (for “Fluorescent in situ hybridization”) technique is sensitive, specific and can be multiplexed with simultaneous detection of three different gene-specific RNAs. The results further demonstrate their ability to measure expression of genes critical for immune cells, such as cytokines, in white blood cells specifically targeting the HIV or CMV viruses. The authors also demonstrate the capacity to detect mRNAs for which flow antibodies against the corresponding proteins are poor or are not available. Read more about the study online here.

Everett, who is completing her degree in three years, worked on this study between her sophomore and senior (gap) year, starting in 2013. She hopes to continue this research next year at a HIV and TB research institute in Durban, South Africa.

Everett’s advisor is Don Oliver, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, the Daniel Ayres Professor of Biology.

Students Take Semester-Long Class in 2 Weeks during Winter Session

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Wesleyan’s Winter Session, held Jan. 9-20, provided students with an opportunity to take a full-semester course in only two weeks. The immersion courses offer full credit and allow students to build a close relationship with faculty and each other.

Students completed reading and writing assignments before class started.

Pictured below are scenes from Winter Session’s ENGL234: Jane Austen and the Romantic Age course (taught by Stephanie Weiner, professor of English) and GOVT311: United States Foreign Policy course (taught by Doug Foyle, associate professor of government, tutor in the College of Social Studies). (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Samy ’18 Begins Collegiate Squash Career with 12-0 Record

Egypt native Laila Samy '18 says she chose Wesleyan because "the squash team .. was not just a team, it was a family."

Egypt native Laila Samy ’18 says she chose Wesleyan because “the squash team .. was not just a team, it was a family.”

#THISISWHY
In this Q&A meet Laila Samy from the Class of 2018.

Q: You came to Wesleyan from your hometown of Cairo, Egypt. Can you describe your life growing up in a foreign country? What was your secondary-school education like?

A: Growing up in Egypt and going to school there made me feel very grateful because I had a great opportunity to both play squash and get a decent education which lead me to move on to the next experience which is completing my last two years of high school in the U.S. and that lead me to be able to attend Wesleyan.

Q: You have already established yourself as one of the top newcomers on the collegiate squash scene with a 12-0 record at No. 1 and a title in the Division III National Championships. When did you begin playing the sport and when did it become apparent you were far from a run-of-the-mill player?

A: I started playing squash when I

Norman ’16 on Young Moroccan Entrepreneurs

Youth unemployment makes it difficult for them to contribute to the family's coffers. (Photo by Hannah Norman '16 for Al Jazeera).

Youth unemployment makes it difficult for them to contribute to the family’s coffers. (Photo by Hannah Norman ’16 for Al Jazeera).

Hannah Norman ’16 is the author of an article titled “Morocco’s young entrepreneurs face barriers,” published Dec. 27 on aljazeera.com.

According to the article, a lack of an entrepreneurship culture is among key challenges facing young entrepreneurs in Morocco. Every week in the capital Rabat, hundreds of young Moroccans stage protests demanding government jobs.

Moroccans resist taking financial risks for fear of failure, according to a recent World Bank report. Many believe that a lack of training, combined with a gap between what university students are taught and the skills companies need, are also handicaps for young entrepreneurs.

Norman spent several months in Morocco on an SIT Study Abroad program and produced this story in association with Round Earth Media, a nonprofit organization that mentors the next generation of international journalists. Norman, who works as a photography assistant in the Office of University Communications, also provided photographs to accompany the article.

Students Showcase Art at Painting Show

Thirteen students enrolled in Professor of Art Tula Telfair’s Painting I course (ARTS 439) displayed their artwork at a Painting Show Dec. 8 at Art Studio South.

This introductory-level course in painting (oils) emphasized work from observation and stressed the fundamentals of formal structure: color, paint manipulation, composition and scale. Students addressed conceptual problems that helped them develop an understanding of the power of visual images to convey ideas and expressions. (Photos by Dat Vu ’15)

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Somoroff ’18 is Making Documentary Film on Holocaust Survivor, Woman Who Saved Him

Sofie Somoroff '18 traveled to Poland over Thanksgiving break to document on film the reunification of a Holocaust survivor and the "righteous gentile" who saved his life.

Sofie Somoroff ’18 traveled to Poland over Thanksgiving break to document on film the reunification of a Holocaust survivor and the “righteous gentile” who saved his life.

#THISISWHY
A prospective film major, Sofie Somoroff ’18 is interested in how filmmakers can foster a connection between the past and the present. Over Thanksgiving recess, she traveled to Poland to document the reuniting of Karl Schapiro—the grandfather of Somoroff’s close friend and working partner, Rachel Kastner—with a “righteous gentile” who saved his life during the Holocaust.

Sofie Somoroff filmed in Auschwitz.

Sofie Somoroff filmed in Auschwitz.

Schapiro has not returned to Eastern Europe since the war, and while he has corresponded with Paulina Plotskaj, the woman who saved him, they have not seen one another in many decades. Now 90 years old, Plotskaj and her parents, who were Christians, hid 15 people in an underground bunker for approximately three years during World War II. They were recognized as Righteous Gentiles by Yad VaShem, the world center for Holocaust research, documentation, education and commemoration. Plotskaj, who had no children and whose husband passed away 25 years ago, now lives alone in Krakow.

Somoroff’s connection to Plotskaj came through her friend Kastner, who visited Poland last spring on a trip retracing the steps of Eastern European Jewry during the Holocaust. Plotskaj unexpectedly spoke to Kastner’s tour group briefly during the trip. When Kastner came home, she and Somoroff “felt compelled to return to Poland and capture this fleeting reunion,” said Somoroff.

Students Lead Black Lives Matter March through Campus, Middletown

Wesleyan students, accompanied by faculty, staff and community members, led a Black Lives Matter March Dec. 3. 

Wesleyan students, accompanied by faculty, staff and community members, led a Black Lives Matter March Dec. 8 in Middletown. Participants carried signs and chanted during the march.

On Dec. 8, approximately 1,000 students, faculty and staff participated in a Black Lives Matter March. The participants marched as a show of solidarity with national protests against discriminatory treatment of blacks in the criminal justice system and incidents of police brutality.

The group started at Exley Science Center, marched across campus and proceeded down Washington Street to the intersection at Main Street in Middletown. They chanted “black lives matter,” “hands up, don’t shoot,” and “we can’t breathe.”

In The Hartford Courant, Abhi Janamanchi ’17 said he he hoped the event would serve as a “dose of reality” about the racial issues many people face every day. “We like to think these issues don’t affect us when we’re in school,” he said in the article. “This isn’t a police state. For a lot of the students here it’s something we have to live with.”

In a Dec. 7 blog, Wesleyan President Michael Roth, who also participated in the march, wrote, “We are preparing for finals, writing exams [and] grading them. These are important things. But all around the country people are speaking out against the outrageous injustices that people of color face on a regular basis. We must acknowledge these issues. The time to speak out is now. At Wesleyan we affirm that we are an institution that values boldness, rigor and practical idealism. One doesn’t have to be an idealist to recognize that change is necessary, and that we must demand it.”

Read more about the event in The Hartford Courant and The Middletown Press. Photos of the march are below: (Photos by Dat Vu ’15)

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QAC Hosts Final Exam Evaluation, Poster Session

More than 100 students presented their quantitative analysis research Dec. 5 in Beckham Hall. 

More than 100 students presented their quantitative analysis research Dec. 5 in Beckham Hall.

On Dec. 5, the Quantitative Analysis Center (QAC) hosted its annual student research final exam evaluation event for its QAC 201 course. More than 100 students presented their projects at a poster session to fellow students, faculty, alumni and friends of Wesleyan.

15 Elected Early Decision to Phi Beta Kappa

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On Dec. 3, Wesleyan welcomed 15 students elected to early decision membership in Phi Beta Kappa.

Fifteen Wesleyan students were elected to early decision membership in Phi Beta Kappa during an initiation ceremony Dec. 3.

To be elected, a student must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations, and must have achieved a grade-point average of 93 and above. For students elected in the fall, it is an especially exacting selection process because admittance is based on a student’s performance at Wesleyan only through their junior year.