Students

3 Student-Led Ventures Awarded PCSE Seed Grants

George Perez ’20

George Perez ’20 pitches his venture, Cardinal Kids, which provides affordable arts, technology and literacy programming to Middletown youth. Cardinals Kids was one of three projects awarded a Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship Seed Grant.

On March 2, Wesleyan students pitched their project ideas to a panel of judges at the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE) Seed Grant finals. Of the six finalists who presented, three teams were awarded $5,000 seed grants to fund the launch of their social enterprise, program, organization or venture.

The winning projects address a compelling social problem, have a clear objective and data strategy, and have potential to produce a lasting and replicable impact. In addition to the project itself, judges based their decisions on the applicants’ passion, commitment, tenacity, leadership and personal integrity.

The 2018 Seed Grant recipients are:

Kai Williams ’20

Kai Williams ’20 pitches her organization, Eat at the Table Theatre Company.

Eat at the Table Theatre Company
Kai Williams ’20 and Emma Morgan Bennett
E.A.T.T. is a nonprofit theatre arts organization that is both founded, operated by and offers membership to actors of color under 22 years old. They will create theater opportunities for young actors of color in New York as a means of combating discriminatory and racist practices within the theater industry and to focus on developing and centering the work of marginalized artists.

Cardinal Kids (previously Middletown Green Youth Association),
George Perez ’20, Jessica Russell ’20, Jenny Chelmow ’19, Vera Benkoil ’18 and Katie Murray ’19
Cardinal Kids is a financially self-sustaining program that will bring affordable arts, tech and literacy programming to Middletown youth. The program will be a Monday through Friday after-school program taught by Wesleyan students.

Young Achievers Foundation Ghana
Ferdinand Quayson ’20, Derrick Dwamena (Michigan State University), Archibald Enninful (Yale University), Felix Agbavor (Drexel University) 
Young Achievers Foundation (YAF) Ghana is a student-run initiative which promotes access to higher education for students in Northern Ghana through scholarship workshops and innovative in-school mentorship programs.

The 2018 Seed Grant finalists are:

A Bridging Community Dinner (AB-CD) Project
Isobel McPhee ’19, Serene Murad ’18, Willa Schwarz ’19 and Shellae Versey (faculty fellow, College of the Environment; assistant professor, African American studies) 
AB-CD Project seeks to bridge communities through a simple concept—connecting with others through sharing meals. It provides the opportunity for refugees to build community relationships through communal dinners and to evaluate the project’s efficacy in helping refugee groups feel welcomed, build relationships and gather resources through community partnerships.

Kelly Acevedo ’20 speaks about Caput Productions.

Kelly Acevedo ’20 speaks about Caput Productions.

Caput Productions
Kelly Acevedo ’20 and Alex Vazquez (academic technology training specialist), with support from Asa Palmer ’18, Langston Lynch ’20 and Rachel Ellis Neyra (assistant professor of English)

Caput Productions will produce films that display the potential of South Central Los Angeles in spite of the “hood mentality” that so often prevents it from receiving needed resources. Their first film is “Sweet and Sour South Central Child.”

The Black Lady Theatre Summer Camp
Arline Pierre-Louis ’19
The Summer of Peace Theatre Camp, sponsored by the Black Lady Theatre, will expand arts education for students that are trapped in New York City’s school-to-prison pipeline.

A video recording of the pitches will soon be made available on the Patricelli Center website.

Students Honored for First-Year Seminar Essay Writing

Seven members of the Class of 2021 were honored for their first-year essays. Pictured, from left, are Sam Libberton, Sarah Backer, Olivia Siegal (back), Kimberly Wipfler, Julia Rose Atkinson, Fritz Spofford and Ethan Addis.

On Feb. 27, Wesleyan celebrated the success of students in the Endeavor Foundation First-Year Seminar Essay Contest. Winners received $200 awards and a book, selected by their course instructor.

A three-year, $225,000 grant from the Endeavor Foundation of New York has supported an expansion of the First Year Seminar Program. These seminars are writing intensive courses that introduce students to a variety of topics and writing associated with various disciplines. Students learn the methods used to collect, interpret, analyze and present evidence as part of a scholarly argument. Faculty teaching these classes highlight the type of writing associated with their respective disciplines, and help students develop, compose, organize and revise their writing.

Veritas Forum to Explore Religious Liberty Issues in American Society

On March 1, Wesleyan will host the Veritas Forum featuring a discussion between Michael Wear, previously Faith Outreach Director of the Obama Administration, and President Michael Roth. Professor of Government Mary Alice Haddad will moderate. The event, titled, “The Trouble with Freedom: A Dialogue on Freedom in 21st Century America from a Religious and Secular Perspective,” will take place at 7–8:30 p.m. in Daniel Family Commons, Usdan University Center. It is free and open to the public.

The forum will explore the political, social, cultural, and religious implications of religious liberty. The presenters will share their past experiences and worldviews on religious liberty on college campuses and beyond.

“Having rich, deep, and meaningful dialogue is increasingly difficult in this polarized world, and I am looking forward to this event that brings together thoughtful, committed individuals who are willing to respectfully engage with one another publicly on topics that are complex and personal,” said University Protestant Chaplain Tracy Mehr-Muska. “I am proud of my students for the phenomenal effort they have put into this program and their continued commitment to learning and dialogue.”

Wear is the founder of Public Square Strategies LLC, and a leading expert and strategist at the intersection of faith, politics, and American public life. He directed faith outreach for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and was one of the youngest White House staffers in American history, leading evangelical outreach and helping manage the White House’s engagement on religious and values issues. Today, Public Square Strategies LLC is a firm that helps religious and political organizations, businesses and others effectively navigate the rapidly changing American religious and political landscape. Wear is the author of Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America, and frequently writes articles for The Atlantic, USA Today, Christianity Today, and other publications.

Strong ’18 Presents Research at Notre Dame Human Development Conference

Alicia Strong '18 presented research at the prestigious Human Development Conference at the University of Notre Dame, held February 23-24.

Alicia Strong ’18 presented research at the prestigious Human Development Conference at the University of Notre Dame, held February 23-24.

Alicia Strong ’18, a government and religion double major, was invited to present her undergraduate research at the prestigious Human Development Conference at the University of Notre Dame, held February 23–24. The annual student-led conference, sponsored by Notre Dame’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies, is an opportunity for students from many academic disciplines to share their development-focused research and to network with other student researchers from across the country and the world.

Strong was one of about 50 students to present at the conference, and one of only 18 to receive a competitive grant from the School for International Training to attend. Strong conducted an independent research project in spring 2017 on the SIT study abroad program “Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo: Peace and Conflict Studies in the Balkans.”

Strong’s research project is titled, “The Patriarchy Knows No Bounds: The Intersection of Gender & Islam in Kosovo.”

Samy ’18 Honored by College Squash Association

Laila Samy ’18 concludes her collegiate career in dual-match play with an incredible 83-1 overall record. (Photo by Jonas Powell ’18)

Laila Samy ’18 highlighted the day for the Wesleyan women’s squash team as she was named the 2018 Betty Richey Award winner Feb. 18 at Harvard. The award is the most prestigious annual honor bestowed by the College Squash Association (CSA). With another win on Feb. 18, Samy concluded her dual-match season with a perfect 24-0 record; however, the 21st-ranked Cardinals lost to 18th-ranked Tufts, 7-2, to finish fourth in the Walker Cup “C” Division of the CSA National Team Championships.

The Betty Richey Award is given to the women’s college squash player who best exemplifies the ideals of squash in her love and devotion to the game, her strong sense of fairness, and her excellence of play and leadership. The winner is determined by a vote of both coaches and players—each varsity team casts one coach and one team vote.

Laila Samy ’18

The senior concludes her collegiate career in dual-match play with an incredible 83-1 overall record. She is a three-time First Team All-American and was named the 2017 NESCAC Player of the Year. She will have her eyes set on an individual national title when she competes at the CSA Individual Championships March 2-4 at George Washington University.

“Laila is at heart a team player and as a coach I could not have asked for more in Laila’s passion towards her teammates succeeding on and off the court. I consider her as an extension of the coaching staff and she has always gone above and beyond to help her teammates improve,” said head coach Shona Kerr. “Laila is well-liked and respected by other coaches, officials and players on other teams. She has grown as a player and as a person over her college career and will go on to be a great ambassador for college squash as she looks to pursue a career in the sport.”

Students Learn to Translate Academic Knowledge for Public in Calderwood Seminars

In Andy Szegedy-Maszak’s Calderwood seminar, Classical Studies Today, nine juniors and seniors learn to translate weekly academic readings into writing that can be understood and appreciated by various audiences.

In Andy Szegedy-Maszak’s Calderwood seminar, Classical Studies Today, nine juniors and seniors learn to translate weekly academic readings into writing that can be understood and appreciated by various audiences.

When President Michael Roth speaks about the purpose of college, he frequently boils it down to three key things: students should find what they love to do, get better at it, and learn to share what they love with others. This semester, Wesleyan is adding to its curriculum to help students develop this third critical skill.

Wesleyan recently received a 3-1/2 year grant for over $600,000 to pilot on campus the Calderwood Seminars, which train students in translating complex arguments and professional jargon from their academic disciplines into writing that can be understood and appreciated by the general public. The seminars, developed by Professor David Lindauer at Wellesley College in 2013, have proven valuable for students in life beyond college. The program’s pedagogical approach has been successfully adapted across many different disciplines.

Students Study Theater in Chile over Winter Session (with Photo Gallery)

The THEA 357: Space and Materiality class traveled to Santiago, Chile, in January.

During Winter Session, 14 Wesleyan students studied live, site-based theater performances in Santiago, Chile.

The course, THEA 357: Space and Materiality, was taught by Marcela Oteíza, assistant professor of theater, and took place during the Festival Internacional Santiago a Mil (FITAM), the most renowned theater festival in Santiago. This was the first abroad course offered by Winter Session.

“It was a wonderful experience for students and myself; particularly, to be able to share in situ with them the social and cultural history of Santiago within the framework of the festival,” Oteíza said. “Students learned about performance and reception theories, while participating in the performances and activities that the festival had to offer.”

Twenty students applied for the two-week intensive course, of which Oteíza was able to take 14, including sophomores, juniors and seniors. Half were theater majors, but the group also included anthropology, English, Spanish, biology, mathematics and American studies majors.

Research by Service-Learning Class Published in Archaeological Society Bulletin

Papers by Professor J. Kehaulani Kauanui and four of her former students are published in the most recent issue of the Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut.

Four former students who enrolled in the service-learning course AMST 250: Decolonizing Indigenous Middletown: Native Histories of the Wangunk Indian People—taught in fall 2015—are now co-authors of articles published in the Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut, No. 79, 2017.

Iryelis Lopez ’17, Tiana Quinones ’17, Abigail Cunniff ’17 and Yael Horowitz ’17 partnered with the Middlesex County Historical Society and spent their semester examining 17th- and 18th-century Middletown records that focused on the Algonquian peoples of the lower Connecticut River known as Wangunks. The Wangunks lived near the Connecticut River primarily in present-day Middletown and Portland, Conn.

In February 2016, self-selected students presented their class research papers to the broader Middletown community at an event held at Russell Library called, “Searching for Indigenous Middletown.” The gathering was organized by course instructor J. Kehaulani Kauanui. Kauanui is professor of American studies, professor of anthropology, chair of the American Studies Department and director of the Center for the Americas.

The Bulletin‘s editor, Lucianne Lavin, was in attendance and heard the students’ presentations. Lavin, who also directs the American Indian Studies Institute in Washington, Conn., later invited the young researchers to have their papers published in the Bulletin.

In addition to being published in the Bulletin, research by the students resulted in the first Wikipedia entry on the Wangunk.

The published papers include “Town Bills of Middletown: Material Histories of Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Erasure” by Yael Horowitz ’17; “Decolonizing Indigenous Middletown” by Iryelis Lopez ’17 and Tiana Quinones ’17; and “Militia, Security, and Smallpox in Middletown Settler Society as Related to the Wangunk People (1754–1785)” by Abigail Cunniff ’17.

The special issue contains five other pieces that emerged from an event Kauanui organized in December 2015 on campus at the Russell House, including “Challenging Settler Colonialism in the Recovery of Wangunk Tribal History” by Kauanui; “Pre-Colonial History of the Wangunk” by Lucianne Lavin; “A Brief History of the Wangunk Reservation” by Timothy Ives; “Indigenous Middletown: Settler Colonial and Wangunk Tribal History” by Reginald Bacon; and “Growing Up Wangunk” by Gary O’Neil.

Kauanui has since retooled the course as a “First Year Initiative” class that was taught last semester as a seminar for first-year students, called “Indigenous Middletown.” Besides focusing on the sparsely documented history of the Wangunk, students are introduced to the fields of settler colonial studies, the rapidly transforming field of critical indigenous studies, along with Native American history and historiography addressing southern New England. “And perhaps most importantly,” Kauanui says, “they learn that the Wangunk people continue to live into the 21st century.”

Students Use Mapping Skills to Collaborate with Community Partner

Earth and environmental sciences major Jackie Buskop '19 collects field data along a hiking trail in Connecticut. (Photo by Melissa Luna)

Earth and environmental sciences major Jackie Buskop ’19 collects field data along a hiking trail in Connecticut while working on a class project. (Photo by Melissa Luna)

Last fall, 19 students enrolled in the Earth and Environmental Sciences 280 course, Introduction to GIS, assisted a local organization while learning data analysis skills.

At the start of the semester, the class teamed up with community partner Emma Kravet, education director at the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA). Kravet expressed a need for a mapping tool that shows the location of schools and other community resources near the CFPA’s blue-blazed hiking trail system. If such a map existed, she could facilitate more meaningful connections to schools and organizations near the trails.

The class broke into five thematic groups to address the CFPA’s needs: recreation, environment, trail access, educational opportunities and public history.

Students first learned about GIS (geographic information systems) and ways they could capture, organize, store, edit, analyze and display spatial and geographic data.

Students Prepare for Final Exams, Winter Recess

On Dec. 11, Caroline Kravitz '19 studied for her HIST 203 Modern Europe exam at Exley Science Center. "My finals aren't until next Saturday, but I want to get a good head start," she said. "I like to study alone at first to prepare, but then I prefer to study in groups because you can learn so much more from your peers."

On Dec. 11, Caroline Kravitz ’19 studied for her HIST 203 Modern Europe exam at Exley Science Center. “My finals aren’t until next Saturday, but I want to get a good head start,” she said. “I like to study alone at first to prepare, but then I prefer to study in groups because you can learn so much more from your peers.”

This week, in preparation for final exams, hundreds of students are flooding Olin Library, Science Library, Exley Science Center, Usdan University Center and other quiet spots seeking an area to study in solitude, while others are collaborating with classmates in groups.

Undergraduate and graduate classes ended on Dec. 8. Reading Period was held Dec. 9-12 and final exams end at 5 p.m. Dec. 16.

University housing closes on Dec. 17 and re-opens on Jan. 23, 2018, and spring semester classes for Wesleyan undergraduates and graduates begins on Jan. 25. Graduate Liberal Studies courses begin on Jan. 29.

E&ES Faculty, Alumni Author Article on New Method for Saharan Dust Collection in the Caribbean

Earth and Environmental Sciences faculty and senior seminar students have identified a potentially fast and inexpensive method for collecting and measuring Saharan dust in the Caribbean.

E&ES faculty members Dana Royer, Tim Ku, Suzanne O’Connell, and Phil Resor, and students Kylen Moynihan ’17, Carolyn Ariori ’09, Gavin Bodkin ’09, Gabriela Doria MA’09, Katherine Enright ’15, Rémy Hatfield-Gardner ’17, Emma Kravet ’09, C. Miller Nuttle ’09, and Lisa Shepard ’17 have coauthored an article published in the January 2018 issue of Atmospheric Environment. The paper, titled “Tank Bromeliads capture Saharan dust in El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico,” summarizes student research performed in three senior seminar capstone projects conducted over an eight-year period starting in January 2009.

Saharan Africa produces approximately 800 billion kilograms of dust each year, a significant portion of which is carried via wind across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. These dust particles provide critical components for Caribbean ecosystems, including viable fungi and bacteria, but current methods for measuring the dust can be either expensive or limited in the amount and purity of samples collected.

Royer and his team sought to test whether Saharan dust could be detected within the bromeliad tanks of the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, and “to test how well tank bromeliads serve as a natural vessel for distinguishing the regional sources of atmospheric deposition.”

The team theorized that the overlapping structure of the bromeliad’s leaves, which is used to capture rainwater and nutrient-rich debris, could provide a feasible way to measure and trace Saharan dust in the Caribbean. Over the course of three field campaigns, the team sampled the bromeliad tanks, soil, and bedrock at three different sites in the El Yunque dwarf forest. Their findings confirmed that the contents of the tested tanks could be analyzed to identify the source of atmospheric dust inputs, thus providing a potentially simpler and lower-cost alternative to existing methods of collection and measurement.

17 Seniors Elected to Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society

During an initiation ceremony on Dec. 6, 17 Wesleyan seniors were elected to the Connecticut Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

To be elected, a student must first have been nominated by the department of his or her major. He or she also must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations and must have achieved a GPA of 93 and above. During the ceremony, Gamma Chapter PBK President Steven Horst, professor of philosophy, professor of science in society, said this class has a 94.4 GPA and above.

“For students elected this fall, it is an especially exacting selection process because admission is based on a student’s performance at Wesleyan only through their junior year,” Horst said. “These new members’ accomplishments during their years at Wesleyan should be a source of pride for themselves and to their families.”