Tag Archive for Class of 2012

Khan ’12, of Brighter Dawns, Attends White House Event

Tasmiha Khan ’12, founder of Brighter Dawns, a charitable organization committed to improving health in the slums of Bangladesh, was invited to the White House to participate in a forum to discuss the important role that faith-based social innovators play in expanding opportunity and addressing social issues. Khan, who was selected by DoSomething.org as one of 11 Young Women To Look Out For, founded Brighter Dawns in the fall of 2010 after working on a health and hygiene project in Bangladesh with the World Peace & Cultural Foundation that summer. Back on campus, she convinced other students to join her in addressing the concerns she’d observed.

The White House event, arranged by the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, in coordination with the Office of Public Engagement, brought together leading faith-based social innovators from around the country.

The afternoon offered briefings, panels, and small-and-large group discussions to explore the ways that these faith-based organizations are creating entrepreneurial ventures. They offer innovative models to create positive change in our economy, and they frequently serve at-risk communities.

“I was able to meet with senior officials such as Mr. Jonathan Greenblatt [executive director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation] and Mr. Joshua DuBois [executive director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships] and had an exclusive opportunity to present our work,” Khan says. “Of course, Wesleyan was mentioned—how could it not? It was a phenomenal event.”

Khan and members of the Brighter Dawns team are planning to return to Bangladesh later this summer.

MINDS Foundation, Students, Featured in Huffington Post

The MINDS Foundation, an organization started by Raghu Appasani ’12, was recently featured in the June 6 Huffington Post. The MINDS Foundation is working to eradicate mental illness stigmas and provide mental healthcare services to patients in rural villages in India.

According to the article, the conditions of many mental health facilities are inexcusable; people lack basic human dignity, and necessities such as clothes, clean water, and food; they are often locked away in prison-like rooms; and lack even the most basic legal protections.

Since 2012, the MINDS Foundation has educated nearly 1,000 individuals, and is currently treating 36 patients suffering from a variety of illnesses ranging from schizophrenia to depression. The Foundation operates in Gujarat, outside the city of Baroda, and works through a close partnership with Sumandeep Vidyapeeth University to reach out to a cluster of 19 villages and 15,000 individuals in the surrounding vicinity. University psychiatrists volunteer their time pro bono to diagnose, treat, and counsel patients.

This summer, Setarah O’Brien ’14 and Simone Hyman ’15 are volunteering with the organization in India.

The Huffington Post article is online here.

Hoskins ’12 Creates Treasure Hunt Installation on Campus

Jack Hoskins '12 spent his senior year creating a permanent Wesleyan Treasure Hunt. The game has more than six clues, and takes treasure-seekers on an adventure across campus. The plaques were installed in May.

Striking clocks gongs per day from Hartford to Middletown.
Silver wedding anniversary years from Laos to Chad.
Squares on a chess board from Warsaw to Kinshasa.

Can you solve this puzzle? If so, you’ve started a treasure hunt, right on Wesleyan’s campus.

The Wesleyan Treasure Hunt, a permanent campus installation, begins at a plaque located in the southeast corner of Usdan University Center near the Huss Courtyard. It encourages students to explore the nooks and crannies of campus, and interact with the buildings as they look for new clues.

“The hunt encapsulates everything I like about Wesleyan,” says its creator Jack Hoskins ’12. “The students I’ve met here are people who love to explore and think and solve puzzles, so not only is the treasure hunt intellectually challenging, it captures the same adventurous spirit and curiosity that makes people at Wesleyan so incredible.”

Hoskins, a government major, warns that although the clues are “elegant,” most are non-verbal and challenging. He suggests going on the hunt in groups, and bringing along a smart phone with internet-searching capabilities. Pre-frosh and first-year-student may need a campus map and be willing to ask the upperclassmen for help.

“This treasure hunt is very, very difficult, and it can’t be done in an afternoon,” he says. “A lot of people give up when they see the second clue. It’s going to take you a while to finish.”

Hoskins, a native of Olympia, Wash., grew up solving puzzles and making treasure hunts for his friends. His spirit for adventure continued throughout high school and college, and in 2011, he suggested the idea of a treasure hunt to his class dean and the Wesleyan Student Assembly. After approving the idea, the WSA’s Student Budget Committee awarded Hoskins with $500 to cover the cost of supplies and installation.

Wesleyan’s Physical Plant designed the wood plaques and coated them with an environmentally-friendly finish to withstand rain, sun, snow and sleet. Hoskins used the Center for the Arts’ wood burning printer for the lettering.

“I think a lot of people might think of a treasure hunt as something childish, but Wesleyan is a place where people don’t think that the curiosity and love of new things that some people call childish is a bad thing,” Hoskins says.

So far, 15 students have completed the treasure hunt, which was installed in May.

But is there really a treasure at the end of the hunt?

“There’s something there … but I cannot say what,” he says, smiling. “But, like at a real treasure hunt, if you get there second, there’s no gold left.”

“Senior Voices” Address by Ben Shiling ’12

Ben Shiling ’12 delivered a “Senior Voices” Address May 26.

Hi, my name is Ben and I am an English major. To many, my parents included, this was a deliberate choice to either a) bank on grad school for a “good job,” or b) become an English teacher. Period. English major did not say to them “this is a man with a diversified future.” I was asked recently “what were you planning on doing with that” at a job interview. Ah! The life of a liberal arts graduate! We are a disreputable bunch, misfits, iconoclasts, destined, as Whitman proudly boasts, “to lean and loaf at our ease.” Well, it’s not that easy, but it is fun.

My story is largely one of making mistakes and getting out of holes I dug for myself. I needed lots of help to do this. My parents, a few friends, some providential support and even more mistakes gave me strength to eventually enlist in the Marines at 20, earn a degree from community college and succeed here at Wesleyan.

Upon arriving at Wesleyan, I realized three things. One, I was scared. Two, I belonged here. and Three, I had a lot to learn. I was more afraid of research papers than of convoy security on top of a Humvee in Iraq. It was terrifying, but easy to accept since I had no choice. Coming to Wesleyan was different.  I had made a choice to come, and the choice involved abandoning other choices that seemed more secure job wise. It was like jumping out of a plane with a parachute but no idea how to pull the chord. I was giving up, piece by piece. My wife and my two little girls kept me anchored, my friends in my recovery program from alcoholism kept me sane, and my parents kept me out of poverty while I looked desperately for a job.

“Senior Voices” Address by Max Bevilacqua ’12

Max Bevilacqua ’12 presented a “Senior Voices” speech in Memorial Chapel on May 26. 

There aren’t many places that I have felt comfortable wearing a dress in public. If you had told me, before I transferred from Georgetown, that in a few short months I would be sporting a cute little pink number with a deep v-neck in Beckham Hall, my Jesuit professors would have cried, and I would have laughed in disbelief. And if you had told me, that in a few short months at Wesleyan, I would be welcomed so warmly, challenged so fiercely, or inspired so deeply…I’m not sure I would have believed that either.

The night before my parents dropped me off on campus, I was curled up in the fetal position on the pullout couch of the Rocky Hill Marriot – taking comfort only in my reasonably priced Wesleyan sweatshirt from Broadstreet Books located conveniently at the intersection of Broad and William street. I didn’t think I could handle transferring as a junior. It wasn’t just about classes or making friends – it was the fear that I would never really feel like I belonged to the place I was walking into so late.

From the start, Wesleyan was a humbling experience. I missed the fact that it was prerequisite to have the voice of an angel or the ability to nonchalantly paint like Rembrandt. But I was going to be a varsity tennis player here…until I didn’t make the team.

Brighter Dawns Featured on News 8 WTNH

Brighter Dawns on News 8.

Brighter Dawns on News 8.

The Wesleyan Chapter of Brighter Dawns, a non-profit organization founded by Tasmiha Khan ’12, was featured on News 8 WTNH on May 11. Brighter Dawns raises funds to build latrines and wells in Bangladesh.

According to the report, Brighter Dawns started when Tasmiha Khan went to a slum in Bangladesh with her family and visited a young woman living in poverty. “Her name was Usma. She was about 15 years old. Had three children. Was forced into poverty at that time,” she said.

Khan started doing a few things to help that family, and when she came back to the U.S. she kept helping, forming the local chapter.

Brighter Dawns is currently trying to win the Dell Social Innovation Competition.

For information on the group and their mission visit http://brighterdawns.org/.

 

Odede ’12 Featured in Hartford Courant

Kennedy Odede ’12 was featured in a May 5 Hartford Courant article discussing his mother’s impact on all he has done in the last four years. Odede came to Wesleyan from the Kibera slum of Nairobi and has since built a school, a clean water latrine, and a health center back home.

“Work hard and read books. Look around you, but don’t hate,” Jane Achieng Odede told the young son she struggled to feed in Kibera, one of the world’s largest slums next to Kenya’s capital of Nairobi. Residents there are mostly jobless or live on less than a dollar a day, the article says.

He presented the Senior Class Welcome at Wesleyan’s 2012 Commencement.

150 Events during 2012 Reunion & Commencement Weekend May 24-27

All Wesleyan alumni and their families are invited to participate in the Parade of Classes. This traditional Wesleyan festivity begins at 11:30 a.m. May 26.

Join the Wesleyan community for class reunions, educational WESeminars, picnics, campus tours, a parade of classes and much more during the 2012 Reunion & Commencement festivities May 24-May 27 on campus.

Highlights include an Eclectic party featuring The Rooks; an all-college picnic and festival on Foss Hill; a 50th Reunion and President’s Reception for the Class of 1962; a champagne reception for graduating seniors and their families; an eco-friendly All-College Dinner; “Senior Voices” with the Class of 2012; the traditional All-College Sing; Andrus Field Tent party featuring Kinky Spigot and the Welders; and of course, the 180th Commencement Ceremony on May 27. U.S. Senator Michael Bennet ’87, a leading advocate for education reforms that support great teaching, will deliver the Commencement address.

“With more than 150 events, R&C Weekend literally has something for everyone,” says Gemma Fontanella Ebstein, associate vice president for external relations. “But it’s really the people – alumni, students, faculty, staff and their families – who make the weekend memorable.”

WESeminars provide opportunities to revisit the classroom and experience firsthand the academic excellence that is the essence of Wesleyan, with presentations by scholars, pundits,

Professor, 3 Students to Study, Teach Abroad as Fulbright Fellows

Su Zheng

As a 2012-12 Fulbright recipients, Miriam Berger ’12 will study journalism in Egypt; and Matthew Alexander ’12 and Lynn Heere ’12 will teach English in Germany. Su Zheng, associate professor of music, associate professor of East Asian studies, will study, “China’s Emergent Soundscape: New Music Creativities, Body Politics and the Internet in Defining a Global Chineseness,” in Shanghai, China.

The Fulbright Program is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering opportunities for students, scholars, and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide.

Miriam Berger, a College of Social Studies major, will begin her year abroad on June 1, as a fellow at the Center for Arabic Studies Abroad (CASA) in Cairo, Egypt. There, she will study Modern Standard Arabic and Colloquial Egyptian. After improving her Arabic and cultural literacy skills, she will begin her Fulbright research on how Egyptian print newspapers have responded to the

Students Inducted into French Honor Society, Pi Delta Phi

This year, 11 seniors were inducted into the French National Honor Society, Pi Delta Phi, on April 18. The students were recognized for their outstanding scholarship in the French language and literature. Pictured, from left to right, are inductees Rachel Tretter, Carina Kaufman, Sarah La Rue, Emma Mohney, Kelvin Kofie, Rachel Silton, Meera Suresh, Hahn Le, Alexandra Kinney.

Catherine Poisson, associate professor of romance languages and literatures, led the initiation ceremony. The society seeks to increase Americans' knowledge and appreciation of the cultural contributions of French-speaking countries, and to stimulate and encourage French and francophone cultural activities.

Rachel Tretter , in the foreground, signs the Pi Delta Phi book, making her membership official, while Poisson watches on.

Carina Kaufman, Sarah La Rue, Emma Mohney recite a pledge in French. Members of the society pledge to continue to promote and celebrate the French language and the Francophone culture throughout their life.

In foreground, Alexandra Kinney, and behind, from left, Rachel Silton, Meera Suresh and Hahn Le recite the pledge. (Photos by Charlotte Christopher '12)

English, American Studies Major Ross ’12 Participates in A Cappella Group, Equestrian Team

Grace Ross ’12.

Q&As with outstanding students is an occasional feature of The Wesleyan Connection. This issue we speak with Grace Ross from the Class of 2012.

Q: Grace, you’ll be graduating this May with a double major in English and American Studies. Why did you choose to major in those areas?

A: It was the American Literature survey course I took with Joel Pfister my freshman fall that drew me to English and American Studies. We read Mary Rowlandson’s Indian captivity narrative. Professor Pfister essentially summarized what I had been attempting to argue in A.P. U.S. History and offered analysis far beyond the scope of my high school research paper. I knew then that I wanted to major in both.

Q: You recently attended the Center for America’s Americas Forum on April 20, which focused on “Authenticity in the Americas: Constructions and Contestations of Identity.” (View photos of the event online here). Can you elaborate on what was discussed in this four-hour event?

A: The panel was structured around “authenticity” and how it functions within identity formation, nation building, and oppressive systems in North and South America. The panel was composed of six authors we had read throughout the semester: Daphne Brooks, Rebecca Earle, Ben Irvin, Jeff Pilcher, Scott Lyons and Florence Babb. Our Wesleyan professors (and postdoctoral fellows) Amelia Kiddle and Christian Gonzales, spearheaded the effort to find authors who could participate and mediated the event. It was primarily targeted toward the students, although many faculty were present. I was most excited to talk with Daphne Brooks, as she provided a key perspective in my thesis and I was most familiar with her work. She also teaches English and African-American studies at Princeton.

Q: In 2010, you spent your summer working at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. collecting, documenting, and transcribing surveys and managing all the archival material. Is this something you’d like to do more of?

A: 
Getting to know the Library of Congress was a rewarding experience and showed me a side of D.C. that I wouldn’t otherwise have been exposed to. It’s been illuminating to delve into the topic of ethical codes in human subject research. But, I’m really an extrovert. As much as I love working with archival material, I don’t see myself spending too much time in an archive, unless it’s research for a graduate thesis or maybe even a book way down the road.

Q: Tell us more about the student-run a cappella group, the Mixolydians.

A:
 The Mixolydians is an ensemble group that performs choral music. Our final concert this spring includes pieces in French, Russian, English and Latin ranging from the past 300 years.

Q: What other organizations, services or clubs did you take part in during your four years at Wesleyan?

A: 
I rode on the Equestrian Team for three years, which provided a good excuse to get off campus every week and to be around horses. Right now, I’m volunteering for Julia Star, a program that sends Wesleyan students to talk with fifth graders about stereotypes and difference. I also served as a member of the English Department Majors Committee, promoting the major to pre-frosh and underclassmen.

Q: What are you going to miss most about Wesleyan, and what are your post-Wesleyan plans?

A:
 I think I’m going to miss the people here most. Everyone you meet on this campus has a passion and has something to offer the world. Ultimately, the late night conversations, unexpected interactions, and multitude of events, performances, and shows will make me most nostalgic. After completing my thesis, I decided to take this summer off and travel around the world. Beyond that, I plan to move to New York in September with my sights set on the publishing industry.