Tag Archive for Class of 2014

Seniors Learn about Giving Back to Wesleyan at SWAG Event

As part of Wesleyan’s Giving Tuesday celebration, members of the Class of 2014 attended the semi-formal Senior Class Reception Dec. 3 in Beckham Hall. Seniors enjoyed live entertainment, listened to remarks by alumni, and learned about the Seniors of Wesleyan Annual Gift (SWAG). A tradition that dates back nearly 20 years, SWAG allows graduating seniors the opportunity to give back to Wesleyan and set the standard for joining the Wesleyan community of alumni. This year the Class of 2014 has a SWAG goal of $10,000.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Ryan Heffernan ’16)


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Pliaskis ’14 a Campus Network Administrator, Founder of TedxWes

Edgar Pliaskis '14 is double majoring in economics and Italian.

Edgar Pliaskis ’14 is double majoring in economics and Italian.

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we speak with Edgar Pliaskis from the Class of 2014.

Q: Where are you from and what attracted you to Wesleyan?

A: I was born in Vilnius, Lithuania and moved to the U.S. about 10 years ago. For me, Wesleyan was always a small school and away from a big city—a beautiful environment to earn a degree and make lifelong friends.

Q: What are you majoring in and why?

A: I am double majoring in economics and Italian. I picked Italian because I was always interested in languages—Italian is a very beautiful language that is related to art and history, but most importantly it is extremely different from all the other languages that I know already. I have to also admit that Professor Viale is another reason why I picked Italian—she was extremely friendly and kind during one of the events my freshman year. I picked economics because it has a beautiful balance between mathematics, culture, and history—all of the things that interest me. There is a lot to carry away from the major.

Q: What courses are you taking this semester? Any favorites?

A: Currently I am enrolled in “Environmental Resource Economics,” “The Courtier and the Courtesan,” and “Philosophy and the Movies.” Although I enjoy all of them, the latter is my favorite because it is outside of my major and the study of film always interested me. From all of the film classes that I took at Wesleyan, I always took away something that changed the way I watch movies and that is the most direct, most apparent change within me.

Q: Tell us about your student job working for Information Technology Services. Will you use this experience after Wesleyan?

A: Currently, I do all kinds of work for ITS. I am a campus network manager—I bring back Internet to the woodframe houses if it is not working properly. At the same time I aid students with the computer troubles while working at the ITS Helpdesk, and help administrators while working as a desktop support specialist assistant. This semester you can find me at the Helpdesk sometime between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, but if there is trouble, I am there more often. The ITS skills are always helpful anywhere and I am hopeful that I will be able to use them, if not all the time, then once in awhile.

Q: What do you like best about being a Wesleyan student?

A: I love the freedom that I have with different courses that I can take. This is extremely important for who I am—I like exploring things and dive into subjects that I have never heard before or know anything about. I take advantage of this every semester.

Q: Are you involved in any extra curricular activities?

A: I am a founder of TedxWes. Together with my friend, I organized the first TedxWes conference last semester. We are planning to make a bigger and more open to the public conference this coming semester with hopes that this, eventually, will turn into a campus tradition.

Q: What are your plans after graduating?

A: Currently everything is up in the air! I am applying to jobs, and graduate schools.

Martin ’14 Receives Scholarship For Martian Brine Research

Peter Martin ’14 accepts a scholarship award from Martha Gilmore, chair and associate professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Peter Martin ’14 accepts a scholarship award from Martha Gilmore, chair and associate professor of earth and environmental sciences.

By examining highly-detailed satellite images, researchers can spot small channels formed on the sides of craters on Mars. These channels may be evidence of flowing water on Mars.

In the Gilmore lab, crystals have formed in Peter Martin's samples. "I've yet to run analysis on these specific crystals, so I can't tell you precisely what they are, but my best guess would be that they are a hydrated iron sulfate," he said.

In the Gilmore lab, crystals have formed in Peter Martin’s samples. “I’ve yet to run analysis on these specific crystals, so I can’t tell you precisely what they are, but my best guess would be that they are a hydrated iron sulfate,” he said.

Since scientists don’t exactly know what the surface of Mars is composed of, Wesleyan student Peter Martin ’14 created a modeling program that can simulate the kinds of salty water, or brine, solutions that would possibly form on Mars. For his efforts, Martin was awarded the Thomas R. McGetchin Memorial Scholarship Award. The $1,500 prize is given annually by the Universities Space Research Association in honor of the former Lunar and Planetary Institute Director, and is among five scholarship awards presented by the USRA.

Martin, who was selected from 21 applicants, is completing his Martian brine research in the planetary lab of Martha Gilmore, chair and associate professor of earth and environmental sciences.

After developing a modeling program, Martin created actual brines in the lab, and let them evaporate. The salts left behind formed various minerals including sylvite and halite. Martin uses X-ray diffraction (XRD) and visible/near-infrared spectroscopy (VNIR) to analyze the resulting evaporites. Analyses are ongoing, and Martin hopes to identify more minerals.

“The brines tell us a lot about Mars’ surface composition, mineralogy, and even hydrology,” he said.

After graduating, Martin plans to study planetary science education in graduate school.

For more information on the scholarship, see this link.



Morgan ’14 Starting Thesis on Zombies in Haitian Literature, U.S. Movies

Anya Morgan '14 demonstrates one of her favorite yoga poses at Memorial Chapel. Morgan is majoring in English and French, and works as a writing tutor, yoga instructor, and a non-directive listening service on campus.

Anya Morgan ’14 demonstrates one of her favorite yoga poses at Memorial Chapel. Morgan is majoring in English and French, and works as a writing tutor, yoga instructor, and a non-directive listening service on campus.

Anya Morgan is a member of the Class of 2014.

Q: Anya, happy senior year to you! What are you majoring in, and why did you decide on these majors?

A: Thank you! I’m majoring in English and French. I think I always knew I was going to be an English major, since my mom is an English teacher and raised me on books – it’s in my blood. I’ve also got some serious French Canadian roots on both sides of my family, so I’m able to practice speaking French with my grandparents. I guess both majors were predetermined!

Q: Where are you from and what attracted you to Wesleyan?

A: I’m from Los Angeles, and I went to an all-girls high school called Archer. Archer is tiny, but for some reason it’s kind of a feeder school for Wesleyan – out of my graduating class of about 80 girls, five are now at Wes. So, I had heard of it because of that, but what really won me over was when I visited the campus. I was deciding between Wesleyan and Cornell, so my mom and I went and visited both of them, and I was struck by the difference in the students’ attitudes. When I came to Wes everyone looked so excited to be there, my tour guide was this hippy-dippy girl wearing birkenstocks, and someone actually chased after the tour yelling “Come to Wes!” So, it was an obvious choice. The vibe is just great here.

Q: What classes are you taking this fall? Which ones are you most looking forward to taking?

A: This fall I’m going to be starting work on my thesis, so I’ll be taking fewer classes than usual. As of now, I’m going to be taking “Literatures of Lying” (English/Psych), “Paris, 19th Century” (French), and “The Empire Writes Back” (English). I might slip a swimming for fitness class in there somewhere. I’m most excited for “Literatures of Lying” because I’ve heard both the professors are wonderful but I haven’t yet taken any classes with them – it’s co-taught by the beloved Jill Morawski and Lisa Cohen.

Q: What is the topic of your thesis?

A: My thesis, which I’m also really excited for, is going to be about representations of zombies in Haitian literature as compared to representations of zombies in American horror movies. I’ve been studying the francophone islands of the West Indies for two semesters and have always had a fascination with American zombies, so I decided to marry the two ideas.

Oladapo ’14 Receives Patricelli Enrichment Grant

Oladoyin Oladapo ’14

Oladoyin Oladapo ’14

Oladoyin Oladapo ’14 received a $500 Enrichment Grant in 2013 from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. This funding allowed her to get private training in HTML and JavaScript, which she will use in her entrepreneurial endeavors.

During spring break, she spent time learning programming languages with Brian Macharia ‘14, a computer science major who has professionally developed websites for companies and students internationally since he was 14.

“Learning to code in this short time was rigorous and challenging. I worked from 9 to 5 learning code. I worked on HTML for the first three days. This language was relatively easy for me, but JavaScript was a lot more difficult. There were many times I wanted to quit and give up but by the end of the day, the concepts made more sense to me. At the end of the two weeks, I was able to build a website, on my own! It was a very basic interface but I was proud of myself nonetheless,” she said.

Learn more about the grant online here.

Factor ’14, Meyerson ’14 Receive Goldwater Honorable Mentions

Two Wesleyan students received honorable mentions from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

Sam Factor '14

Sam Factor ’14

Sam Factor ’14, a physics and computer science double major, and Elliot Meyerson ’14, a computer science and mathematics double major, each received a letter of congratulations and a certificate from the foundation. The 2013-14 Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,107 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

Factor, who hails from Madison, Wisc., hopes to pursue a Ph.D in physics and conduct research in physics, work in industry or teach at the university level. At Wesleyan, Factor works with Fred Ellis, professor of physics, on asymmetric wave transport in nonlinear PT-symmetric electronics.

PT-symmetric systems have unchanged behavior under a combined reversal of time and reflection in space.

“We have shown that the combination of PT-symmetry and nonlinear gain and loss elements produce asymmetric wave transport. This is a remarkable feature and can be used to build devices that exhibit many interesting properties such as unidirectional invisibility and could lead to a device able to transmit and receive signals at the same time on the same frequency.”

During his senior year, Factor may write a senior thesis or complete the BA/MA program.

Elliot Meyerson '14

Elliot Meyerson ’14

Meyerson, of Silver Spring, M.D., hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science and conduct research towards general intelligence and teach at the university level.

Meyerson’s computer science advisor is Eric Aaron, assistant professor of computer sciences, and Wai Kiu Chan, professor of mathematics. He plans on writing a computer science thesis in 2013-14.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on Nov. 14, 1986.

Since its first award in 1989, the Foundation has bestowed over 6,550 scholarships.

Wesleyan Slam Poets Place 13th in National Competition

Wesleyan’s WESlam team placed 13th out of 59 college teams from around the country in the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, held April 3-6 at Barnard College in New York City.

Five students, Evan Okun ’13, Lily Myers ’15 , Zachary Goldberg ’13, Cherkira Lashely ’15 and Markeisha Hill ’16 competed on the team and Emily Weitzman ’14 coached. Lily Myers won the award for best love poem.

“‘Most moving’ was the response Wesleyan got from community ,” Okun said. “We were complemented for our creative manner in which we resisted the typical ‘slam-poem-formula’ that is often over dramatic and exploitative of personal trauma.”

Watch Zachary Goldberg, Evan Okun and Lily Myers perform “We Made It:”

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Varekamp, Students Study Volcanic Products, Waters in Argentina

Ellen Alexander '14, Professor Joop Varekamp and graduate student Lauren Camfield in Argentina.

Ellen Alexander ’14, Professor Joop Varekamp and graduate student Lauren Camfield in Argentina.

Ellen Alexander ’14, Professor Joop Varekamp and graduate student Lauren Camfield recently returned from Argentina where they studied the eruptive products of the Copahue volcano March 7-March 19.

Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, professor of environmental studies, has studied the volcano since 1997. It erupted in 2000 and again in December 2012.

“Many Wesleyan students have done their senior theses and grad theses on Copahue. It’s exciting stuff for us volcanology types,” Varekamp said.

Camfield sampled the products of the most recent eruption of Copahue, which included ash, pumice and volcanic bombs. She will analyze her samples at Wesleyan for major and trace elements on a X-ray fluorescence machine and analyze any melt inclusions at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on an electron microprobe.

“This information can give us insight on what is happening in the magma chamber of the volcano as well as depth of crystallization of minerals,” Camfield said.

Student-Athlete Long ’14 Misses Game to Donate Bone Marrow

Matt Long '14 is a tight end on Wesleyan's Football Team.

Matt Long ’14 is a tight end on Wesleyan’s Football Team.

Matt Long ’14 a tight end on Wesleyan’s Football Team, hopes to make a new friend in about a year. Why would a 6-foot 5-inch, 240 pound scholar-athlete at a prestigious college like Wesleyan who was named an academic all-NESCAC choice in 2011 need to wait 12 months to make a new acquaintance? One very special reason.

This past spring, Long, of Williston, Vt., was coaxed by a schoolmate to enlist in a bone marrow donor program during a drive on campus. It was sponsored by DKMS, the world’s largest bone marrow donor program. Thus, Matt was on a donor matching list after a cheek swab. The general consensus is that any individual donor has less than a one percent chance of being called upon to donate. When is does happen, it could be years after the potential donor is first in the system. For Long, the wait was about four months.

“In late August, just before the start of camp [preseason football training], I received an urgent overnight letter,” Long explains. It said that he was a preliminary match for an anonymous patient. Matt was tested further in his home area and things looked promising.

Shortly thereafter, Long was transported to Georgetown Hospital in Washington, D.C., for more testing,

MacLean ’14 Helps Ill Children, Supports Students with Disabilities

Catherine MacLean received a $1,000 scholarship from Citizen’s Bank TruFit Good Citizen Scholarship program on Sept. 14.

Q&As with outstanding students is an occasional feature of The Wesleyan Connection. This issue we speak with Catherine MacLean from the Class of 2014.

Q: Catherine, what are you majoring in at Wesleyan, and why?

A: I am a biology and science and society double major. I have been fascinated by biology for quite a long time, so I was pretty sure I wanted to study it when I came to Wesleyan. I am very interested in the way that such basic low-level structures can combine synergistically to give rise to an organism and the complexity of life. The combination of elegant simplicity and endless complexity in biology is really interesting to me. Once I got to Wesleyan, I stumbled upon the Science in Society Program and found that it was a perfect combination of my love of science and social science. In the same way that context is key in studying cells and systems in biology, the context of the historical, political and social conditions in which science is done is key to studying science.

Q: You recently received a $1,000 scholarship from Citizen’s Bank TruFit Good Citizen Scholarship program for your efforts with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Conn. What is your role with the camp?

A: The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is a summer camp and year-round center serving children with serious illnesses and their families. In the summer, there is a summer camp program that allows kids with sickle cell disease, HIV, cancer, metabolic and mitochondrial disease, and blood disorders to attend a traditional overnight summer camp.

I’ve been involved at camp for a number of years. I’ve helped out at fundraisers and events held at the camp, and volunteered at both summer and weekend camp programs. My freshman year at Wesleyan, I hosted the camp leadership for an information session at Wes so that other students could get involved. This led to several students volunteering or working at Hole in the Wall and associated SeriousFun Children’s network camps.

I love working at camp. It is an incredibly positive and friendly community where I have made fantastic friends. Being able to provide support, fun and relaxation to parents and children who really need it is very important work to me. 

Video Feature on Matt Donahue ’14

Matt Donahue ’14 is a double major in psychology and neuroscience and behavior, works in several departments on campus, and is the chapter president of Brighter Dawns, a student run non-profit that aims to improve health conditions in the slums of Bangladesh. Learn more about Donahue in the video below:

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