Tag Archive for alumni

Garcia ’88 Leads Dwight Greene Symposium, Screens New Basketball Documentary


World-renowned DJ, radio personality, streetball player and sneaker guru Robert ‘Bobbito’ Garcia ’88 led a movie screening and talkback during the 22nd Annual Dwight L. Greene Symposium, Sept. 26 in the Goldsmith Family Cinema. Garcia spoke about his journey to Wesleyan and beyond, in addition to sharing his award-winning independent documentary Doin’ it in the Park, which explores the history, culture, and social impact of New York’s summer basketball scene.

Shot at 180 courts in 75 days, the film covers a cross-section of players both professional and amateur, including Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Kenny Smith, “Pee Wee” Kirkland, “Fly” Williams, God Shammgod, Tim “Headache” Gittens, Corey “Homicide” Williams, Kenny Anderson, Jack Ryan, Richard “Crazy Legs” Colon, Niki Avery, Milani Malik, and the Park Pick-Up Players of New York City. The filmmakers traveled to most of the film locations by bicycle, carrying camera equipment and a basketball in their backpacks.

Shot at 180 courts in 75 days, the film covers a cross-section of players both professional and amateur, including Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Kenny Smith, “Pee Wee” Kirkland, “Fly” Williams, God Shammgod, Tim “Headache” Gittens, Corey “Homicide” Williams, Kenny Anderson, Jack Ryan, Richard “Crazy Legs” Colon, Niki Avery, Milani Malik, and the Park Pick-Up Players of New York City. The filmmakers traveled to most of the film locations by bicycle, carrying camera equipment and a basketball in their backpacks.

HIMYM Creators Bays ’97, Thomas ’97 Speak about Wesleyan, TV during Family Weekend


As part of Family Weekend, Craig Thomas ’97, left, and Carter Bays ’97, creators of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother?, participated in a conversation Sept. 27 in Memorial Chapel.

Miranda ’02 Speaks on the Origins of In the Heights at CFA

On Sept. 23, Tony Award-winning composer/lyricist and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 spoke about the creation of the musical In The Heights during his time at Wesleyan. His talk, "When You're Home: A Look Back at the Origins of In the Heights," was sponsored by the Theater Department and Center for the Arts.

On Sept. 23, Tony Award-winning composer/lyricist and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 spoke about the creation of the musical In The Heights during his time at Wesleyan. His talk, “When You’re Home: A Look Back at the Origins of In the Heights,” was sponsored by the Theater Department and Center for the Arts.

5 Athletes, 1 Coach to be Enshrined in Wes Athletic Hall of Fame

Five notable Wesleyan athletes and one long-time coach will be enshrined in the seventh class of the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame. In total, the Hall, established in 2008, now includes 37 individuals and 11 teams. Joining the Hall of Fame Oct. 17 will be:

  • Joe Barry Morningstar ’39, a three-sport standout (football, basketball and baseball) for whom Wesleyan’s annual men’s basketball outstanding player award is named;
  • Cochrane Chase ’54, a tremendous football and wrestling talent during his undergraduate career;


  • Marion J. Stoj, M.D. ’74, a high-scoring forward in men’s soccer who earned All-America honors;
  • Thomas Vincent Reifenheiser III ’94, the most accomplished men’s tennis player in Wesleyan history, who earned NESCAC crowns and national Division III ITA titles and also played squash, two seasons as the team’s No. 1 player;
  • Sarah D. Hann, D.V.M.  ’95, an outstanding distance runner for the Cardinals with a NESCAC cross-country title and All-America laurels to her credit, who went on to international repute as a runner after graduation;
  • J. Elmer Swanson, who joined the Cardinal staff in 1963 as track and cross-country coach, adding the women’s teams in both sports to his portfolio when they turned varsity during the 1970s, and served as a mentor to hundreds of Wesleyan student-athletes during his 30 years as a full-time head coach.

The induction ceremony will take place Friday, Oct. 17 during Homecoming Weekend. To register for the event, go here. For more information on homecoming, go here. Read past AOF stories here.

Whedon ’87 Is Subject of New Biography

Joss Whedon '87 delivered Wesleyan's Commencement address in 2013.

Joss Whedon ’87 delivered Wesleyan’s Commencement address in 2013.

Award-winning film and television director, producer and writer Joss Whedon ’87 is the subject of the informative and entertaining Joss Whedon: The Biography (Chicago Review Press) by Amy Pascale, a director at MTV.

The book begins by tracing Whedon’s growth from a creative child and teenager who spent years away from his family at an elite English boarding school (Winchester College in Hampshire), through his early successes—which often turned into frustration in television (Roseanne) and film (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). The biography then covers his breakout career turn as the creator, writer, and director of the highly successful Buffy television series, which garnered a passionate fan base.

Book about Josh Whedon '87.

Book about Josh Whedon ’87.

Following Buffy, Whedon directed, produced or wrote more television series (Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse and the current ABC hit Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), several movies, Marvel comic books, and an innovative web series, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which gave him his first Emmy win. He went on to direct and write The Avengers film in 2012, which earned a worldwide box office of $1.5 billion. He followed this blockbuster with his film of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, a critically acclaimed personal project shot in black-and-white at his home with a cast of friends.

One of the chapters of the biography deals with Whedon’s time at Wesleyan, where he majored in film. As an undergraduate, he further developed his keen interest in gender studies and feminism. He also wrote a paper on Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, which focused on four themes: the Watcher, the Watched, Isolation, and the Role of the Viewer, themes that would appear in his own creative work. Whedon became a TA for film classes and made a student film. He studied with Richard Slotkin, Olin Professor of English Emeritus, and with Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, who says: “His lectures were absolutely brilliant. They had … a kind of poetry that showed how his heart and soul really understood the medium, as well as his brain … He wasn’t just intellectually sharp about film, he was also emotionally, creatively sharp about it.”

Pascale conducted extensive interviews with Whedon and his family, friends, collaborators and stars, resulting in candid, behind-the-scenes accounts of the making of his groundbreaking TV series and films, and new stories about his work with Pixar writers and animators during the creation of Toy Story.

Governors Shumlin, Hickenlooper to Speak on Campus during Reunion

Two current state governors who proudly call Wes their alma mater will be back on campus during Reunion & Commencement Weekend, May 22-25. Both Gov. Peter Shumlin ‘79 of Vermont and Gov. John Hickenlooper ’74, MA ’80, Hon ’10 of Colorado will be celebrating their reunion years, and giving talks during the weekend.

On May 24, Hickenlooper will give a WESeminar from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., titled “An Inside Look Into the Legalization of Marijuana.” He will address how the decision by voters to legalize small amounts of marijuana for adult use is affecting his state of Colorado, and potentially the nation. The talk will be at the Center for the Arts Hall (formerly the CFA Cinema).

Hickenlooper was elected Colorado’s 42nd governor in 2010. A self-described “recovering geologist now on loan to public service,” he left the oilfields of western Colorado in the late 1980s and opened the state’s first brewpub. He went on to serve as mayor of Denver for eight years before running for, and being elected to, the governorship. Hickenlooper earned a BA in English and a MA in geology from Wesleyan.

Also on May 24 from noon to 1 p.m., Shumlin will speak at the Wesleyan Assembly and Alumni Association Meeting. At this annual meeting of the Alumni Association, chair Megan Norris ’83, P ’17 will share brief updates from the year on association priorities and Wesleyan fundraising. This year, the association also will present Distinguished Alumni Awards to Shumlin, David W. Knapp ’49, Russell Hardin, Jr. ’64, Rev. Edwin C. Sanders, II ’69, John M. Shapiro ’74, Karen E. Donfried ’84, Miguel Arteta ’89, and Jessica Posner Odede ’09. In addition, Stephen H. Oleskey ’64, P ’00 will be honored with an Outstanding Service Award.

Shumlin is the 81st governor of Vermont, elected in 2010. His public service career dates back more than three decades, when he was first elected to the Putney town select board at age 24. He went on to serve in the Vermont House of Representatives, followed by the Vermont Senate, where he was elected by his colleagues to lead the Senate as President pro tem. Shumlin is also the co-director, with his brother, of Putney Student Travel and National Geographic Student Expeditions, a company that sends students on educational programs and service projects around the globe. At Wesleyan, he majored in government.

Read more about Reunion & Commencement Weekend here, or see the latest news and full schedule for the weekend here.

Female Student-Athletes Benefit from Alumni Mentoring Workshop

Twenty alumni, parents and community members participated in an Alumni Athletics Mentoring Workshop May 12 in Daniel Family Commons. As part of the program, guests met with several female student-athletes to speak about career options.

Guests included Andrea Balkan ’86, managing partner with Brookfield Real Estate Financial Partners; Patricia Wetherill, M.D., of Norwalk Hospital; Ruth Bodian ’88 project manager at the Massachusetts Child Trauma Project; Clare Colton ’12, research analyst, CEO of Practice and Technology, Media and Telecommunications Practices, Spencer Stuart; Meg Dempsey ’85, elementary school teacher and high school tutor; Allison Monarca, school counselor at Woodrow Wilson Middle School; Francine Rivkin ’78, freelance business consultant; and Sheryl Smith Ph.D. ’78, clinical and sport psychologist.

Also Lisa Campoli ’84, executive vice president and managing partner of Capital Markets at Collier’s International; Liza Barrett ’86, middle school English teacher; Gretchen Cooney ’83, owner of Bucket List Training; Kate Antonucci, social worker; Cindy Robinson, Esq. ’83, attorney at Tremont & Sheldon P.C.; Ashleigh Corvi ’13, assistant dean of admissions at Wesleyan; Alicia Sisk ’86, psychotherapist; Lexi Turner ’83, project leader for the Strength Matters Initiative; Dr. Linda Polonsky, M.D. ’82, specialist at Baystate Medical Practices; Nikki Maletta ’08, advanced practice registered nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital; Karen Miller ’83, former director of squash and tennis programs at the Greenwich Academy; and Sarah-Jane Ripa ’02, assistant director of student services and outreach for the Department of Continuing Studies at Wesleyan.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Alicia Sisk ’86 spoke to student-athletes about her career as a psychotherapist. Sisk works with college students and young adults with relationship challenges and substance abuse issues.

Alicia Sisk ’86 spoke to student-athletes about her career as a psychotherapist. Sisk works with college students and young adults with relationship challenges and substance abuse issues.

Abby Rutt '17 is on the softball team and women's ice hockey team.

Abby Rutt ’17 is on the softball team and women’s ice hockey team.

Women of Wesleyan Hold Conference to Push Workplace Boundaries

Jane Eiser '77

Journalist Jane Eiser ’77 gives a talk at the “Female Frontiers – Pushing Boundaries in the Workplace” program presented by the Women of Wesleyan. Eisner is a former Wesleyan Trustee and is editor-in-chief of “The Jewish Daily Forward.” She and other alumnae shared insights and strategies they’ve learned as women in the modern workplace.

Lin ’12 Honored with NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Zin Lin '12

Zin Lin ’12

Zin Lin ’12 received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for his research on PT-symmetric systems performed while a student at Wesleyan. Lin’s advisor was Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics.

Lin was selected for his “outstanding abilities and accomplishments, as well [his] potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. He’s currently studying quantum nonlinear photonics as a second-year graduate student at Harvard University.

As a fellow, Lin will receive a $32,000 stipend for 2014-15. Fellows are expected to make satisfactory academic progress towards completion of their graduate degrees, as defined and certified by the Fellow’s GRFP institution. Upon completion of his fellowship, Lin is required to provide an Annual Activities Report that documents his activities, accomplishments, progress and productivity.

At Wesleyan, Lin double majored in physics and mathematics and graduated with high honors. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received the Robertson Prize, awarded during his sophomore year for “excellence in mathematics.”

Novel by Guiney ’77 Addresses Women’s Health Issues in Cambodia

Sue Guiney '77

Sue Guiney ’77

Sue Guiney ’77 has published her second novel, Out of the Ruins (Ward Wood Publishing). At the beginning of the book, a Cambodian doctor is frustrated that the poor women in his country are dying needlessly. He reaches out to friends to help him create a new clinic for the local villages around Siem Reap’s world famous temples, and they answer his call.

An Irishman, Dr Diarmuid, arrives with his English assistant, Dr. Gemma, and a Canadian administrator Mr. Fred. Together they establish a place where poor women of Cambodia can find the basic care that so much of the world has long since taken for granted. A young and ambitious Cambodian nurse, Srey, acts as an interpreter and connection to the trust of the local community, but her idealized view of western medicine will be seriously challenged.

Tradition collides with science as East meets West, and though the doctors are all too eager to help, they have much to learn about their own personal demons in a desperate and seductive society.

Novel by Sue Guiney '77

Novel by Sue Guiney ’77

In a recent interview in The Phnom Penh Post, Guiney comments on an aspect of her writing process: “I do quite a lot of research for my books, both through reading and on the Internet, but most importantly, by immersing myself in the place, walking the streets and talking to the people. For example, to research Out of the Ruins, I found a Khmer guide in his 20s who was willing to take me to streets where there are karaoke bars and tin-roofed shacks with girls of all ages offering themselves up for sale. He was brave to take a middle-aged Western woman to places she had no right being in. And I suppose I was brave to go with him. But I need to see things with my own eyes, even if they are just buildings and surroundings. And I need to talk to people about their experiences if possible.”

Guiney has lived in London for nearly 20 years where she writes and teaches fiction, poetry, and plays. Her work has appeared in prestigious literary journals on both sides of the Atlantic, and her first book, published by Bluechrome Publishing in 2006, is the text of her poetry play Dreams of May, (now been relaunched by Ward Wood Publishing). which premiered at London’s Pentameters Theatre. Ward Wood has also published her poetry collection Her Life Collected and her first novel set in Cambodia, A Clash of Innocents.

Sue Guiney web site


Esdaile ’00 New Athletic Director at Boston Public Schools

Avery Esdaile ’00

Avery Esdaile ’00

Avery Esdaile ’00 started his new job as athletic director for Boston Public Schools on Monday, April 14. Before his recent transition, Esdaile spent 12 years in the Wellesley College Athletic Department.

Ken Still, the former athletic director for Boston Public Schools, retired in October, leaving the schools without an AD for much of the fall and the entire winter season. Esdaile, with a degree in sociology from Wesleyan and a master’s of science in management of sports industries from the University of New Haven, says he is looking forward to being “in a position to hopefully down the line develop a program that infuses some learning and life lessons through athletics” because he hopes to help “kids that participate in athletics not only grow athletically but grow as the people that they are,” according a Boston Globe article.

Esdaile will face challenges through the transition from college to high school including the huge shift in size; at Wellesley he had only one team in each sport but as AD for Boston Public Schools, he has multiple teams participating in each sport. One issue Esdaile is planning to tackle is “the lack of interest in certain sports in the city.”

Less popular sports include hockey and swimming and Esdaile hopes to give students more opportunities to participate in these sports. Speaking about his plans, he states, “Right now, for me to come in and make changes would be foolish. The goal is to get through the year, take that breath, and then start to get ready for next year and look at what are some of things that we can do that make us more efficient or open the lines of communication or deal with anything that will just make what we do in this office here work at a higher level.”

Morrison ’96 Writes and Edits Romantic Comedy Film Hank and Asha

Juila Morrison '96 and James E. McDuff

Juila Morrison ’96 and James Duff

Julia Morrison ’96 has co-produced, co-written and edited a new film, Hank and Asha (website), which opened at the City Cinemas Village East Theater New York City last weekend and will run at the Laemmle NoHo 7 Theater in Los Angeles from April 18–24. This lovely romantic comedy about identity, longing, and the irresistible appeal of entertaining life’s what-ifs was co-written and directed by James Duff, who is also Morrison’s husband.

In the film, an Indian woman (Mahira Kakkar) studying in Prague and a lonely Southerner (Andrew Pastides) living in New York begin an unconventional correspondence through video letters—two strangers searching for human connection in a hyper-connected world. When their relationship develops, they must decide whether or not to meet face to face.

Andrew Pastides in "Hank and Asha"

Andrew Pastides in “Hank and Asha”

Hank and Asha premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. Since then it has screened at more than 25 festivals worldwide, and has won 11 awards.

In his New York Times review, Nicolas Rapold writes: “A rare sustained epistolary romance, … this winsome, whisper-thin tale shimmers along with the charming urge to connect and reveal yourself that links its two correspondents. … this is a movie by people who honor the pleasures of waiting, wondering and longing in an instantaneous world.”


Mahira Kakkar in "Hank and Asha"

Mahira Kakkar in “Hank and Asha”

NPR interview with Julia Morrison and James E. Duff

Hank and Asha on Facebook
Twitter: @HankandAsha

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