Tag Archive for alumni

“You Just Have to Read This…” Books by Wesleyan Authors: Meyerson ’04, Card ’04, and Fink ’77

In this continuing series, we explore a selection of the latest books by Wesleyan alumni. The volumes, sent to us by the alumni authors themselves, are forwarded to Olin Library as donations to the University’s collection and made available to the Wesleyan community.

The Imperfects coverAmy Meyerson ’04, The Imperfects (HarperCollins/Park Row Books, 2020)

Generations of secrets loom large in this novel about the dysfunctional Miller family. When the eccentric family matriarch, Helen, passes away, the items she leaves behind—including a 137-carat diamond hidden in her bedroom—stir up old resentments, new tensions, and plenty of questions among her daughter and grandchildren. As the family races to determine whether they are the rightful heirs to the precious gemstone, they make startling discoveries about Helen, who immigrated to the United States from Austria, and her family’s tragic past.

A fast-paced and engaging read, The Imperfects is based on the true story of the Florentine Diamond, which went missing around 1918, after the fall of the Austrian Empire.

Amy Meyerson ’04 is an associate professor of writing at the University of Southern California. The Imperfects is her second novel. Her debut novel The Bookshop of Yesterdays, an international best-seller with translations in 11 languages, was featured in a 2018 Connection article.

Moezzi ’01 Shares Reflections, Advice on Applying Rumi’s Wisdom to Modern Life

Melody Moezzi

In The Rumi Prescription, Melody Moezzi ’01 shares her story of studying and learning from the wisdom of 13th-century mystic poet Rumi, whose verses she found relevant even in today’s world. Moezzi majored in philosophy at Wesleyan.

The timing of the release of The Rumi Prescription: How an Ancient Mystic Poet Changed My Modern Manic Life (Penguin Random House, 2020) was far from ideal. Officially out March 3, the new book by Melody Moezzi ’01 was barely in readers’ hands before social distancing restrictions were imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Moezzi was able to participate in a handful of events near her home in Wilmington, N.C. . . . and then the remainder were canceled or rescheduled in virtual form.

The Rumi Prescription coverHowever, The Rumi Prescription is the sort of book that people with extra free time on their hands—and the inclination to obtain meaning from difficult experiences—might value. Moezzi’s third book, The Rumi Prescription details how she came to interpret and apply the lessons of the 13th-century mystic poet Rumi to her modern-day world, a process that was ultimately life-changing.

An Iranian-American Muslim author, attorney, activist, and visiting professor of creative nonfiction at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Moezzi has also written about mental health in her 2014 memoir Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life. On May 18, she will participate in a live Zoom conversation about The Rumi Prescription with fellow mental wellness activist and illustrator Ellen Forney ’89, as part of a series offered by Literati bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Click here to join the event on May 18.

Moezzi recently answered questions about The Rumi Prescription, how Rumi’s words can apply to today’s world, and her advice for taking care of your mental health during a pandemic.

First of all, how’s The Rumi Prescription doing? What a time to launch a new book.

Melody Moezzi: It’s not the best time to be releasing a book, but it turns out that the topic of this book is actually something that is helpful for people right now, so I’m glad for that. At least people seem to be finding comfort in it.

“You Just Have to Read This…” Books by Wesleyan Authors: Pugh ’88, Tupper ’95, and Pompano CAS’95

In the eighth of this continuing series, Sara McCrea ’21, a College of Letters major from Boulder, Colo., reviews alumni books and offers a selection for those in search of knowledge, insight, and inspiration. The volumes, sent to us by alumni, are forwarded to Olin Library as donations to the University’s collection and made available to the Wesleyan community.

Stardust MediaChristina Pugh ’88, Stardust Media (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020)

In this time of social distancing, I find myself surrounded by media more than ever. My Wesleyan friends, thousands of miles away, flicker on all my screens; I watch from my bedroom as my seminar courses adjust to Zoom. As we all adapt to the distance necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we find ourselves confronted by the gifts and limitations of our technologies—a theme of Christina Pugh’s Stardust Media, a stunning new collection of poems that traverse the landscapes of both new and ancient technologies.

Best of Wes: Alumni Act In, Produce Popular TV Shows

A number of Wesleyan alumni act in, write, direct, and produce popular TV programs. We’ve compiled a list of those alumni and their shows below, as part of our “Best of Wes” series. (Do you have a favorite that’s not listed? Email your idea to newsletter@wesleyan.edu, and we’ll add it in! You can also view previous “Best of Wes” pieces.)

bojack at wesleyan

Kate Purdy ’01 is a writer for the show BoJack Horseman on Netflix. Many BoJack Horseman scenes take place at Wesleyan University. From left, BoJack’s half-sister, Hollyhock, takes a selfie in front of Fayerweather; BoJack meets with Wes alumnus and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon ’15; and students walk on campus. In the show, BoJack is a theater professor at Wesleyan. (Images courtesy of Netflix)

himym

Several of the characters in How I Met Your Mother attended Wesleyan University. The show was created by Carter Bays ’97 and Craig Thomas ’97. Wesleyan is shown in numerous flashbacks, most of them occurring in Room 110 of Hewitt Residence Hall. The show is now available for steaming on Hulu.

The alumni and their roles on various TV shows are listed below:

Phillip Abraham ’82, P’20 has directed, produced, or directed the photography of episodes of Most Dangerous Game, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Glow, Orange Is the New Black, Daredevil, Ozark, Bates Motel, The Defenders, The Path, Mad Men, Weeds, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and Castle Rock.

Jay Abramowitz ’76 wrote and produced Valerie’s Family, Full House, Mr. Belvedere and other television comedies. He was head writer on the animated PBS series Liberty’s Kids, an account of the American Revolution that blended fact, fiction and comedy and featured Dustin Hoffman, Annette Bening and Walter Cronkite. Some of Abramowitz’s short stories are posted on HollywoodDementia.com. His first novel Formerly Cool was published last year.

Sasha Alpert ’82, P’20 produced episodes of Project Runway, Born this Way, Under the Gunn, Bad Girls Club, After the Runway, and The Real World. She served as a casting director for Born This Way, Murder, The Rebel Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best, The Real World, The Simple Life, and Lost.

Miguel Arteta ’89 directed episodes of Room 104, Forever, Succession, Famous in Love, Getting On, Grace and Frankie, Nurse Jackie, The New Normal, Ugly Betty, The Office, Six Feet Under, Cracking Up, and Freaks and Geeks. He’s also produced episodes of Duck Butter, Getting On, and Enlightened.

Michele Barnwell ’89 produced the documentary series Flint Town, My Teen is Pregnant and So Am I, America’s Next Top Model, Tiny & Toya, and others.

Michael Bay ’86 produced episodes of The Purge, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, The Last Ship, Horror at the Cecil Hotel, Black Sails, and Billion Dollar Wreck.

Carter Bays ’97 is the co-creator, co-writer, and co-producer of How I Met Your Mother. He also wrote for the Late Show With David Letterman, American Dad!, Quintuplets, Oliver Beene, and others.

Jordan Belfi ’00 has acting roles in Entourage, All American, 9-1-1, The Rookie, Chicago Fire, Code Black, Chicago Justice, Major Crimes, Mr. Hollywood, Scandal, NCIS: Los Angeles, Burn Notice, Grey’s Anatomy, Bones, Charlie’s Angels, Hawaii Five-O, Ghost Whisperer, and CSI: Miami.

Bill Boulware ’71 has served as the consulting producer of the BET comedy Reed Between the Lines. He has also been an executive producer for the UPN comedy One on One and The Parkers. He has served as a producer/writer for many sit-coms including The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, In the House, Here and Now, Claude’s Crib, and New Attitude. He co-created the NBC hit, 227 and began his network experience as a staff writer on Benson. In addition, he has written freelance scripts for The Cosby Show, The Dabney Coleman Show, and The Mayor.

Samantha Corbin-Miller ’93 was the executive producer or writer for episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Conviction, Crossing Jordan, Cold Case, ER, The Practice, and H-Town.

Jennifer Crittenden ’92 has produced and/or written episodes of Veep, Divorce, The New Adventures of Old ChristineArrested Development, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Drew Carey Show, and Seinfeld.

Ed Decter ’79 has spent the last 35 years writing and creating television shows such as Shadowhunters, Chicago Sons, Odd Man Out, The Closer, and has executive produced 14 series. He’s currently writing a dark crime series for FX that he created. “Wesleyan alumnae Kate Purdy, brilliant award winning writer of Bojack Horseman and Liz Garcia writer of Memphis Beat both started as my assistants, continuing the Wesleyan connection,” he added.

Emmy Award-winning actress Dana Delany ’78 stars in the television shows China Beach, Desperate Housewives, and Body of Proof.

Jan Eliasberg ’74, P’19 directed episodes of Gone, Bull, Nashville, NCIS: Los Angeles, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, Supernatural, Dawson’s Creek, Sisters, and Conviction.

Jennifer Flackett ’86 is the co-creator and Abe Forman-Greenwald ’98 is a producer on the Netflix animated series Big Mouth.

Liz W. Garcia ’99 produced and wrote episodes for The Sinner, Memphis Beat, Cold Case, Wonderfalls, and Dawson’s Creek.

Willie Garson (William Paszamant) ’85 has acted in more than 300 episodes of television series including Hawaii Five-O, SupergirlMagnum P.I., White Collar, Two and a Half Men, CSI: Miami, Stargate SG-1, Sex and the City, The X-Files, Nash Bridges, Friends, and Star Trek: Voyager

David Goodman ’95 served as the executive producer, consulting producer, and writer of Amazing Stories, Emergence, Once Upon a Time, Fringe, and The Event.

Eleo Hensleigh ’80 is the former senior vice president of marketing and communications for the Travel Channel, the chief marketing officer at ION Media Networks, and the chief marketing officer of brand strategy and marketing with Disney ABC Television Group.

Beanie Feldstein ’15 acted in American Crime Story, Grey’s Anatomy, What We Do in the Shadows, and The Simpsons.

Stephen Friedman ’91 is the former president of MTV.

Evan Katz ’83 was the executive producer and writer for 24: Legacy, Body of Proof, Awake, The Event, 24, Special Unit 2, and JAG.

David Kendall ’79, P’16 served as the executive producer of Growing Pains, Boy Meets World, The Wonderful World of Disney, Family Affair, and Melissa & Joey. He directed and wrote episodes of Coop and Cami Ask the World, Henry Danger, Game Shakers, Hannah Montana, Boy Meets World, and Clerks.

David Kohan ’86, P’17 is co-creator and executive producer of Will and Grace and Good Morning, Miami, among others. He also was a writer for The Wonder Years.

Alex Kurtzman ’95 wrote and produced episodes of Sleepy Hollow, Scorpion, Hawaii Five-O, Locke & Key, Xena: Warrior Princess, Alias, Fringe, Transformers Prime, Limitless, Instinct, Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Short Treks, and Star Trek: Picard

Jeffrey Lane ’76 was the executive producer and writer for Mad About You, Bette, and the 42nd Annual Tony Awards TV special.

Jim Margolis ’93 was the producer or writer of the TV series Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, Veep, Newsreaders, Almost Royal, and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Lawrence Mark ’71 directed Mind Set Go, Tricked, Emergency, The Liquidator, Property Brothers, and In Real Life.

Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon ’15 has made acting appearances in Modern Family, BoJack Horseman, Saturday Night Live, Ducktales, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Sesame Street, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and House.

Matthew Penn ’80, P’15 was the producer or director of Law & Order, Big Apple, Orange Is the New Black, House, Blue Bloods, Law & Order, NYPD Blue, and New Amsterdam.

Zak Penn ’90, P’23 is the co-creator of the series Alphas.

Kate Purdy ’01 wrote episodes of BoJack Horseman and Cougar Town. She’s also the creator and writer of the current animated series Undone.

Matt Senreich ’96 is the executive producer of Robot Chicken, SuperMansion, Hot Streets, The Grand Slams, The Simpsons, and Lego Scooby-Doo.

Dan Shotz ’99 produced episodes of See, Common Law, Black Sails, Harper’s Island, Countdown, and Jericho.

Jenno Topping ’89 has served as the executive producer of Truth Be Told, P-Valley, and See.

Craig Thomas ’97 is the co-creator, co-writer, and co-producer of How I Met Your Mother and creator of The Goodwin Games. He also wrote for American Dad!, Quintuplets, Method & Red, Da Ali G Show, and Oliver Beene.

Jon Turteltaub ’85 is the producer of the television dramas Jericho, Harper’s Island, Common Law, and The Thousand Year Journey.

Daisy von Scherler Mayer ’88 directed episodes of Bosch, The Walking Dead, A Million Little Things, Whiskey Cavalier, For the People, Chicago Med, Ray Donovan, House of Lies, Orange is the New Black, Mad Men, and Nurse Jackie.

Matthew Weiner ’87, P’18, ’23 is an Emmy Award-winning creator, writer, and executive producer of Mad Men and The Romanoffs.

D.B. Weiss ’93 was the executive producer and writer of Game of Thrones. He’s also had acting roles in Game of Thrones, Westworld, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Paul Weitz ’88 was the executive producer for episodes of Mozart in the Jungle, Cracking Up, Lone Star, Off Centre, and Fantasy Island.

Joss Whedon ’87, Hon’13 was the creator, producer, director, and writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Dollhouse, Angel, and more. His new sci-fi show, The Nevers, will premiere in 2021.

Mike White ’92 produced and wrote episodes for the School of Rock TV series, Enlightened, and Cracking Up.

Whitford

The West Wing of Wesleyan’s Usdan University Center is named in honor of actor Bradley Whitford ’81. Whitford played White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman on the NBC television drama The West Wing. Whitford was nominated for three consecutive Emmy Awards from 2001 to 2003 for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role on The West Wing, winning the award in 2001. He received a second Emmy Award in 2015 for his role on Transparent.

Bradley Whitford ’81 is an Emmy Award-winning actor known for his roles in The West Wing, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Perfect Harmony, The Handmaid’s Tale, Infinity Train, Tangled: The Series, and Transparent.

Bill Wolkoff ’95 has written episodes of Once Upon a Time, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, TRON: Uprising, and Star Wars Rebels.

Frank Wood ’83 is a Tony Award-winning actor and has appeared in episodes of Prodigal Son, The Blacklist, Mozart in the Jungle, The Knick, and Girls.

Bill Wrubel ’85 was a writer and producer for Modern Family, Ugly Betty, and Will & Grace.

John Yang ’80 is a Peabody Award-winning news correspondent on NBC.

Startup Led by Dhanda ’95 Developing COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests

Rahul Dhanda

Rahul Dhanda ’95

A lack of fast, reliable diagnostic testing has played a major role in the rapid proliferation of cases of COVID-19. Rahul Dhanda ’95 and his team at Sherlock Biosciences are working furiously to change that, potentially shortening the testing’s time horizon to a matter of minutes.

Dhanda is co-founder, CEO, and president of the engineering biology startup based in Cambridge, Mass., which is creating two different diagnostic tests for COVID-19—one rooted in CRISPR technology, the other in synthetic biology. The hope is that the tests can be released during the course of the current pandemic, Dhanda said, each with its own different applications and utility.

A history major who also took premed classes at Wesleyan, Dhanda earned his MBA at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before forging a successful career in the biotech field, with a specialty in diagnostics.

Arkin ’82 to Livestream Readings of His Suspense Novel During COVID-19 Outbreak

arkin book

Matthew Arkin

Matthew Arkin ’82

Starting April 1, Matthew Arkin ’82 will read from his suspense thriller In the Country of the Blind (2013) on YouTube Live.

“I’ll be reading in an effort to fight the strain and isolation [of the COVID-19 pandemic] and perhaps provide a little entertainment,” he said.

This is Arkin’s first attempt at livestreaming, which he’s calling “social distance storytime.”

“It’s an idea I had because we’re all under quarantine right now, we’re social distancing, stuck at home, and like many of you, I wonder how I can fill fill my time, what I can do to help others fill their time … so I thought I’d share it live online. I think it’s a lot of fun.”

Arkin will begin reading the book at 10 p.m. EST, and will continue the livestreams every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. He will lead a live-chat Q&A following each chapter.

Arkin, who double-majored in English and government at Wesleyan, hopes the story will be “something for people to look forward to, something to enjoy, something to sit around together and listen to,” he said.

To subscribe or tune in, visit the Matthew Arkin Studio page on YouTube.

Best of Wes: Alumni-Produced Podcasts

Plug in those earbuds, crank those dials, and tune in to some of the many podcasts written, produced, and hosted by Wesleyan alumni. These are the best of Wes!

castroMarysol Castro ’96, broadcast journalist and New York Mets PA announcer, is the host of CTbites Hot Dish! (2020). The podcast, now with 13 episodes, sizzles with Connecticut chefs, farmers, bartenders, food writers, and local food activists. Guests have included Food Network Star winner Chef Christian Petroni, Connecticut Chef of the Year Tyler Anderson, and Westport Farmers Market Director Lori Cochran.

Adam Peltzman ’96 and Koyalee Chanda ’96 are co-writers of the six-episode scripted comedy for kids titled This Podcast Has Fleas (2017). Fleas features rivals Jones the cat and Waffles the dog, who are each creating their own podcast. They’re joined by other household pet characters Benny the gerbil and Mr. Glub the goldfish. In each episode, Jones and Waffles navigate a daily drama, such as a chaotic sleepover party, a trip to the vet, and the dreaded cone of shame. Read more in this past News @ Wesleyan article.

99invisible-logo-zag V2Avery Trufelman ’13 is a host and producer of three podcasts:
99% Invisible (2020), now at 385 episodes and counting, is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about—the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. Trufelman serves as a producer of the show, which has more than 400 million downloads.

Articles of Interest (2019), a seven-episode podcast based off 99% Invisible, investigates the stories behind many clothing styles. Hosted by Trufelman, the show addresses punk style, blue jeans, kids’ clothing, fake pockets, Hawaiian shirts, and more.

Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan in the News

1. USA Today: “America Has a History of Lynching, but it’s Not a Federal Crime. The House Just Voted to Change That”

Benjamin Waite Professor of the English Language Ashraf Rushdy is interviewed on the topic of legislation that would make lynching a federal crime. In the interview he called lynching “the original hate crime.” “Lynching is a blot on the history of America,” he said. “But it’s never too late to do the right thing.”

2. The New York Times: “Starbucks Baristas Accuse Service Company of Abuse and Pay Gaps”

Associate Professor of Sociology Jonathan Cutler is interviewed about transgender issues in labor organizations as immigrant, transgender, and black baristas face discrimination at airport Starbucks. “Organized labor often lives or dies by its ability to tap into broader social movements,” he said. “In this case, you’re seeing the most public effort to organize around transgender issues.”

3. The Washington Post: “Does Money Even Matter? And Other Questions You May Have About Bloomberg’s Half-Billion-Dollar Failed Candidacy”

Eliasberg ’74, P’19 on Her Debut Novel, Hannah’s War

The book cover of Jan Eliasberg's new book, Hannah's War

Debut fiction by Jan Eliasberg ’74, P’19.

Award-winning writer/director Jan Eliasberg ’74, P’19 made her debut as a novelist with Hannah’s War, a story inspired by the real-life physicist Dr. Lise Meitner, whom an article in the Aug. 6, 1945, issue of the New York Times referred to as “a female, non-Aryan physicist,” noted for helping the Americans develop the atomic bomb.

Hannah’s War was published by Little Brown on March 3.

“Jan Eliasberg knows how to open big with strong suspense and wry humor and take us for a hurtling ride through one of America’s most complex moments,” said Amy Bloom ’75, Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing. “The wonderful characters of Hannah’s War bring together a moving love story, a high-stakes mystery, and a fascinating look into the moral compass of an exceptional woman.”

Eliasberg’s talk at Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore, originally scheduled for March 26, has been postponed.

Wesleyan University Magazine had profiled Eliasberg, focusing on her work in television and film; here she discusses her transition to being a novelist.

Q: As a screenwriter and director, what were the challenges you faced in writing a novel?

Jan Eliasberg: There were far more advantages than challenges. I would say that the biggest challenge was the idea of sitting down for almost nine months with no collaborative contact. As a director, you do not have a minute to yourself, from the moment you start the job to the moment you finish: You’re on location with eight, 10 people; you are on a set with all 60 others asking you questions. But this was nine months of going for days without really talking to anyone. I mean, how lovely in retrospect, but slightly terrifying to contemplate.

Students Engage with Google Employees through Career Virtual Panel

On Feb. 27, the Gordon Career Center hosted a Google Career Virtual Panel featuring Wesleyan alumni who offered insight on their roles in sales, business, product management, marketing, legal issues, and other roles at Google.

The panel was assembled by Sherry Liang ’20, who completed a WEShadow at Google last winter, and Peer Career Advisor Esmye Lytle ’21.

Speakers included:

Aaron Stoertz '03

Aaron Stoertz ’03

Aaron Stoertz ’03: Stoertz graduated with a BA in English. Since then he worked in conservation biology, public health, and international health policy at the World Health Organization before landing in tech, where he’s worked his way into a position as a product manager at Google Health.

Terry Wei ’07: Wei has 13 years of experience in public relations and communications. She currently leads communications for Waze, the world’s leading crowdsourced navigation app. Previously, Wei was head of public relations at Squarespace and managed product communications at Mercedes-Benz. Originally from California, Wei studied English at Wesleyan and graduated in 2007.

Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan in the News
1. The Open Mind: “Democratizing the Jury”

Associate Professor of Government Sonali Chakravarti is interviewed in connection with her new book, Radical Enfranchisement in the Jury Room and Public Life, in which she offers a “full-throated defense of juries as a democratic institution.” “I am very interested in how ordinary people engage with political institutions, and juries are the place where ordinary people have the most power,” she says. Chakravarti calls for more robust civic education, continuing into adulthood, in order to have a “more effective, modern jury system.”

2. Hartford Courant: “Sen. Murphy, Aiming to Expand Pell Grant Eligibility for Incarcerated Students, Hears from Inmates at York Correctional Institution”

Senator Chris Murphy, who is the co-sponsor of a bill to expand the federal Pell grant program for college students to include inmates, met with 11 inmates who have participated in educational programs at York Correctional Institution through the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education and other college-in-prison programs.“What’s important about the REAL Act is that college affordability should be accessible to all students regardless of where they are,” said CPE program manager Allie Cislo. “It’s one thing rhetorically to commit to reentry,” she said, but resources like educational programs “can make or break it for people.”

3. American Theatre: “Digging for New Roots”

This article on “climate change theatre” features Ocean Filibuster, a play by Assistant Professor of Theater Katie Pearl through her theater company, PearlDamour. Commenting on the play’s premise, in which a new Senate bill proposes sentencing the world’s oceans to death and the ocean stands to speak in its own defense, Pearl said, “We thought, well, what if the ocean finally got fed up with taking all of our crap, and started talking and didn’t stop until we actually shut up and listened?” American Theatre, a leading publication in the theater industry, writes: “Ocean Filibuster recalibrates the human experience by reminding us of the comparatively small scale and depth of our own existence.”