Tag Archive for Class of 2016

Wesleyan Students Partner with City Water, Sewer Workers for Unique Show

Juliana Castro '19, Michael Edwards '16, and Melissa Leung '16 are among the students who have been working with the city's Water and Sewer Department to create a performance that will debut at the Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter on May 9. (Photo courtesy of The Middletown Press).

Juliana Castro ’19, Michael Edwards ’16, and Melissa Leung ’16 are among the students who have been working with the city’s Water and Sewer Department to create a performance that will debut at the Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter on May 7. (Photo courtesy of The Middletown Press).

This spring, Allison Orr, the Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment, is leading a group of Wesleyan students in partnering with the city of Middletown’s Water and Sewer Department to develop a unique performance that will debut at the Feet to the Fire: Riverfront Encounter on May 7. The performance starts at noon at Harbor Park.

Allison Orr

Allison Orr

According to this story in The Middletown Press, Orr has long used “her choreography talent to expose the work of those who would otherwise go unnoticed.” She is the artistic director of Forklift Danceworks, and is known for “Trash Dance,” a 2012 documentary film that explored the work of the Austin, Texas Sanitation Department.

“What I do is I embed myself within these groups of employees over a period of time,” Orr said. “I convince them to come along with me and we create together performances that educate people about the work.”

Under her direction, eight Wesleyan students “joined” the city’s water department. Since February, they have been collecting interviews, shadowing employees and studying their movements to create a performance based on the workers’ daily lives, and raise awareness about how they keep Middletown’s waterfront clean.

For Gretchen LaMotte ’18, this performance is not only a way to bridge a gap between the Wesleyan community and Middletown, but is also an opportunity for her to bring the Water and Sewer Department’s work to the forefront.

“All of this is invisible work that is supporting the infrastructure of our daily lives. I’m excited about this performance because hopefully it will make that work more visible,” LaMotte said.

In March, Orr also taught movement classes to students at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center.

Jili ’16 to Study Public Policy, International Relations as Yenching Scholar in China

Bulelani Jili '16

Bulelani Jili ’16

Bulelani Jili ’16 has been named a Yenching Scholar for 2016. This fully funded and prestigious postgraduate program is run by Peking University in Beijing, China. Initiated in 2014, the Yenching Academy program invites exceptional postgraduates from around the globe to engage in interdisciplinary study on ancient, modern and contemporary China in the humanities and the social sciences.

Yenching Scholars are granted the flexibility to create their own study paths by choosing from six academic concentrations and a variety of extracurricular activities. Studying at the Academy represents a unique opportunity not only for intercultural and academic exchange, but also for personal and professional development.

While undertaking a one-year program in Chinese Studies at the academy, Jili intends to concentrate in public policy and international relations.

“I am greatly interested in examining more closely issues pertaining to governance and educational policies in China and South Africa,” Jili said. “This study is especially relevant because of South Africa’s and China’s new and promising relationship.”

10 Wesleyan Students, 1 Alumna Receive Fulbrights

Eleven Wesleyans were finalists in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program this year, including 10 from the Class of 2016, and a Class of 2013 alumna. In all, 23 people from Wesleyan applied for Fulbrights, and 12 were semi-finalists.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The program operates in 160 countries worldwide. Primary funding for the program comes from an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments, host institutions, corporations and foundations in the U.S. and abroad also provide direct and indirect support.

The program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. Candidates must submit a Statement of Grant Purpose defining activities to take place during one academic year in a participating country outside the U.S. Recipients are selected based on academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Wesleyan Green Fund Financially Supports Campus Sustainability Projects

The student-run environmental arts magazine Loam is dedicated to promoting the work of pioneering individuals and organizations in the realm of sustainability. The magazine, which features a printed and online version, is one of dozens of projects supported by the Wesleyan Green Fund.

The student-run environmental arts magazine Loam is dedicated to promoting the work of pioneering individuals and organizations in the realm of sustainability. The magazine, which features a printed and online version, is one of dozens of projects supported by the Wesleyan Green Fund.

“There is no single ‘right way’ to be an environmentalist.”

This is the philosophy of the Wesleyan Green Fund, which since 2010 has provided financial support to a wide range of sustainability projects on campus. Overseen by six to eight students, and advised by Sustainability Director Jennifer Kleindienst, the Green Fund has received 50 proposals for grants from over 30 organizations and individuals this year alone, and distributed close to $100,000 in funding.

The money distributed by the Green Fund comes from a $15 per semester opt-out fee paid by students along with tuition. About 90 percent of students participate, and on average, the Green Fund gets about $85,000 per year. The Green Fund accepts proposals from students, faculty and staff.

A monarch butterfly thrives in the West College Courtyard. The two acre garden is maintained by WILD Wes and supported by the Wesleyan Green Fund.

A monarch butterfly thrives in the West College Courtyard. The two acre permaculture garden is maintained by WILD Wes and supported by the Wesleyan Green Fund.

According to Green Fund Chair Zacko Brint ’16, at its founding, the organization’s original goals were to “decrease the carbon footprint of the University, decrease waste, increase the University’s use of renewable energy sources, and increase the visibility of environmentally responsible practices on campus.” Its focus was mainly on funding larger projects, such as WILD Wes, several capital projects at Long Lane Farm, and the first three years of salary for the sustainability coordinator. (See more examples here.)

In recent years, while the funding of large projects has continued, the Green Fund “has made significant efforts to expand the communities that we serve, and broaden the definition of sustainability,” said Brint. The 50 applications received this year range from the Sailing Club to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day symposium to a student-run papermaking club. Some proposals are to fund small sustainability-focused parts of a larger project, such as a student group wishing to print on sustainably sourced paper, which costs more than virgin paper.

“The Green Fund has supported so many projects that would not otherwise be possible on campus,” Kleindienst said. “It’s been exciting this year to see so many funded projects related to the intersection of environmental issues and social justice, including a zine on climate justice, a panel discussion on environmental justice, and a lobbying training workshop for students, which was brought back to campus to train other Wesleyan students.”

View all Green Fund projects online here.

Brint noted that because the Green Fund is not always able to fully fund all projects that apply for grants, one of their goals is to understand all funding sources on campus and build coalitions.

The Green Fund recently supported Wes For Peace, a group of 17 students who attended the Friends Committee on National Legislation's Spring Lobby Weekend. Students received intensive training from experienced lobbyists and congressional staffers, and put these skills into practice through lobbying around the issue of mass incarceration.

The Green Fund recently supported Wes For Peace, a group of 17 students who attended the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s Spring Lobby Weekend. Students received intensive training from experienced lobbyists and congressional staffers, and put these skills into practice through lobbying around the issue of mass incarceration.

“We have established working relationships with many different offices and funding sources on campus, and if we have a project that we need help funding, we can call and help expedite the process,” he explained. “In a lot of ways, we act as a liaison for projects.

Members of the Green Fund also actively pursue projects of their own. Currently, this includes an initiative to start an Environmental Justice student forum next fall, as well as working with the administration to hire a faculty member to teach a similar course. Members of the Green Fund are also working on purchasing an electric vehicle that will serve in the Department of Transportation’s fleet.

In the future, Brint expects the Green Fund to continue expanding what it means to be sustainable and, in doing so, to reach new communities. He credits Kleindienst with helping the entire Wesleyan community shift towards thinking about sustainability. One such initiative involves getting more professors to incorporate sustainability modules into their syllabi. The Green Fund has provided financial backing to run a seminar for professors at Wesleyan and other Connecticut college on how they can incorporate sustainability into their courses.

Wright ’16 Recipient of Keasbey Scholarship

Claire Wright '16

Claire Wright ’16

As a 2016 recipient of the Keasbey Scholarship, Claire Wright ’16 will continue her education at Oxford University after graduating from Wesleyan this May. While at Oxford, she will pursue an MPhil in Comparative Social Policy.

“Throughout my time at Wesleyan I have become increasingly passionate both about international development efforts and gender equality initiatives,” she said.

Wright’s senior thesis focused on medical, social and political implications of using PTSD-focused aid for survivors of sexual violence in postcolonial nations.

“I wanted a course of study that would allow me to translate these theoretical, intellectual insights regarding responses to violence against women into socially relevant, implementable policy,” she said.

For more than 50 years, the Keasbey Foundation has supported some of the most gifted and intellectually curious American college graduates as they embark on post-graduate study in the United Kingdom. Recipients of the Keasbey demonstrate academic excellence, active participation in extracurricular activities, leadership abilities, and the promise of personally and intellectually benefiting from two years of study in Britain. The scholarship includes a stipend and covers the cost of tuition, room and board at Oxford.

The American students are selected on a rotating basis from the following institutions: Amherst, Bowdoin, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Haverford, Middlebury, Princeton, Swarthmore, Wesleyan and Yale.

At Wesleyan, Wright also worked as an academic peer advisor, Title IX special projects coordinator, as a student activities and leadership development intern and as a teacher’s assistant for the course Foundations of Contemporary Psychology. She received the Chadbourne Prize and Wesleyan Memorial Prize for demonstrating outstanding character, conduct and scholarship, and was honored with the Morgernstern-Clarren Social Justice Award for her commitment to social justice efforts at Wesleyan.

Wright is majoring in the College of Letters, psychology and French.

Faculty, Students, Alumni Attend Political Science Conference

Students presented research at the 74th annual Midwest Political Science Association conference in Chicago.

Students presented research at the 74th annual Midwest Political Science Association conference in Chicago.

The 74th annual Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) conference in Chicago April 7-10 was attended by several Wesleyan faculty members, students and recent alumni. The conference, held every April, is one of the largest political science conferences with more than 5,000 presenters from throughout the United States and around the world. It is traditionally held in Chicago’s historic Palmer House Hilton.

Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, Assistant Professor of Government Logan Dancey, and Assistant Professor of Government Yamil Velez all presented research at the conference. They were accompanied by Joli Holmes ’17, John Murchison ’16, Grace Wong ’18, Anh Tuan Nguyen Viet ’16, and Eki Ramadhan ’16, students who contributed to and presented research.

Also in attendance were recent alumni Leonid “Leo” Liu ’14, who presented research with Fowler, and Matt Motta ’13, now a graduate student at the University of Minnesota.

Students Inducted into American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Honor Society

Six Wesleyan students were inducted into the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) honor society this year. Helena Awad ’16, Noah Hamlish ’16, Selin Kutlu ’16, Melanie Parziale ’16, Julianne Riggs ’17, and Zarek Siegel ’16 were honored with this prestigious award for exceptional work in biochemistry and molecular biology.

The ASBMB Honor Society recognizes exceptional undergraduate juniors and seniors who are pursuing a degree in the molecular life sciences for their scholarly achievement, research accomplishments, and outreach activities. The mission of the society is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, promotion of the diversity of individuals entering the scientific workforce, and publication of a number of scientific and educational journals, including the Journal of Biological Chemistry and the Journal of Lipid Research.

Winners of this award have the ability to present their research at the 2017 annual ASBMB annual meeting, being held in Chicago.

Boulware Presents Research at Symposium of the Society of Nonlinear Dynamics and Econometrics

Assistant Professor of Economics Karl Boulware recently presented research at the 24th Symposium of the Society of Nonlinear Dynamics and Econometrics, held March 10-11 at the University of Alabama.

Boulware presented a paper titled, “Monetary Policy Surprises and the Shadow Bank Lending Channel: Evidence from the Fed Funds Futures Market” during a session on Monetary and Government Policy. The project is a refinement of research started by Kota Uno ’16 during a QAC Summer Apprenticeship with Boulware.

Students Present Research at the Eastern Psychological Association’s 2016 Meeting

Sheri Reichelson '16

Sheri Reichelson ’16

Several Wesleyan students presented research at the Eastern Psychological Association’s 2016 Annual Meeting in New York, N.Y. on March 4.

Sheri Reichelson ’16 presented a poster titled “Does the Arbitrary Grouping of Physical Options Influence Children’s and Adults’ Choices?”

Reichelson received an Eastern Regional travel grant from the Psi Chi Grants Committee and Boards of Directors to fund her travel. She also is an accepted BA/MA student continuing her work next year in Wesleyan’s Cognitive Development Labs under the supervision of Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology.

Reichelson’s research, an ongoing collaborative project between the Cognitive Development Labs and the Reasoning and Decision Making Lab (led by Andrea Patalano, chair and associate professor of psychology), investigates how the grouping of categories affects decision making in children and adults.

Samantha Hellberg '16

Samantha Hellberg ’16

Samantha Hellberg ’16 also presented a poster titled, “Effects of Adolescent Ethanol Exposure and Anxiety on Motivation for Gambling-Like Cues.” She worked with Mike Robinson, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, and also won a Psi Chi Award.

And Rebecca Tom ’16 and Charlotte Freeland, lab manager in Robinson’s lab, presented a poster, “Optogenetic Activation of the Central Amygdala Generates Addiction-like Preference for Reward.”

Watson Fellows to Study Aquaculture, Immigrant Detention Abroad

Noah Hamlish '16 and Chando Mapoma '16 are 2016 Watson Fellowship recipients. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Noah Hamlish ’16 and Chando Mapoma ’16 are 2016 Watson Fellowship recipients. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

As 2016 Watson Fellows, Noah Hamlish ’16 will examine the effects of aquaculture in coastal communities and Chando Mapoma ’16 will investigate alternatives to immigrant detention.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship is a one-year grant for purposeful, independent study awarded to graduating college seniors. Fellows conceive original projects, execute them outside of the United States, and embrace the ensuing journey. Fellows receive a $30,000 stipend and are required to submit quarterly reports.

2016 Patricelli Center Seed Grant Winners Announced

Members of team behind TRAP House, one of the three social ventures that won a seed grant, presented their pitch before a live audience of the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and others. Presenting (from left to right) are Irvine Peck's-Agaya '18, Gabe Weinreb '18, Bashaun Brown, and Sara Eismont '18.

Members of the team behind TRAP House, one of the three social ventures awarded a seed grant, presented their pitch before members of the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and others. Presenting (from left to right) are Irvine Peck’s-Agaya ’18, Gabe Weinreb ’18, Bashaun Brown and Sara Eismont ’18.

Three social ventures started by Wesleyan students were recently awarded $5,000 seed grants in the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship’s annual Seed Grant Challenge. They are Kindergarten Kickstart, TRAP House and Walking Elephants Home.

The last weekend in February, all six finalists for the seed grants presented pitches for their ventures before the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and Seed Grant judges, as well as representatives of CT Innovations and the ‎State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, fellow students, and others. The event was also livestreamed. One of the other finalists, <Zim/Code>, chose to withdraw from the Seed Grant competition before selections were made, after the project received $10,000 from another funder.

The remaining finalists, Give Education and Pertiwi Initiative, were awarded smaller runner-up grants funded by members of the Board of Trustees who attended the pitches and believed all six teams were worthy of validation.

“This was the third year that we awarded seed grants in a pitch competition format,” said Makaela Kingsley, director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “I am always blown away by the finalists, and this year was no exception. From Becca Winkler’s thorough understanding of the environmental and cultural conditions in northern Thailand to Irvine Peck’s-Agaya’s deep personal commitment to her economic development work, every person who took that stage captured the audience’s attention and garnered their support. More than launching ventures, this process helps students develop creative competence and confidence that will make them effective changemakers and capable leaders. I believe it’s a critical piece of a Wesleyan education.”

Children Learn about Greek Mythology through Student-Led WesMyth Program

MacDonough Elementary School students Norma, Aiden and Marrisaana proudly display their Greek gods and goddesses during the WesMyth program, taught by Wesleyan student volunteers Sarah McCully '16 and Jack Spira '16. 

MacDonough Elementary School students Norma, Aiden and Marrisaana proudly display their Greek gods and goddesses during the WesMyth program, taught by Wesleyan student volunteers Sarah McCully ’16 and Jack Spira ’16. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

“Bubbletrapper” is the goddess of bubblegum and is always nice — except to bad guys.

“Bubblegum is her weapon,” said Marrisaana, a fifth grader at MacDonough Elementary School in Middletown. “When she’s mad, she traps bad guys in a bubble.”

5th grader Aiden shows off his mystical god, "Lione."

5th grader Aiden shows off his mystical god, “Lione.”

On Feb. 19, Marrisaana and four other classmates participated in Wesleyan’s WesMyth program, which provides fifth graders at McDonough with an introduction to Greek mythology. The program, taught by Wesleyan student volunteers, is held for one hour every week throughout the academic year.

On this particular day, the WesMyth participants created their own Greek gods and goddesses based on mythical creatures they’ve studied in weeks past.

“What will you name your god or goddess? What powers will he have? What will his personality be like? Would he be friends with Aphrodite?” asked WesMyth volunteer Sarah McCully ’16.

Fifth grader Aiden sketched a god named “Lione” who is half lion and half human. “Lione is the god of lightning, fire and nature. He’s cruel and likes to destroy things,” Aiden explained.