Tag Archive for Class of 2020

Bashir, Lezhanskyy Receive Watson Fellowships

As recipients of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, two Wesleyan seniors will explore their academic aspirations internationally through a yearlong personal project.

Inayah Bashier

Inayah Bashir ’20

Inayah Bashir ’20 and Luka Lezhanskyy ’20 are among 47 Watson Fellows selected from 153 finalists. This year’s class comes from 20 states and eight countries, and exhibits a broad range of academic specialties, socio-economic backgrounds, and project diversity.

Bashir, a College of Social Studies major with a Writing Certificate, plans to explore the histories, stories, and teachings of African spirituality through her project titled “African Spirituality: Obscured Foundations of the Diaspora.”

“In a world dominated by Abrahamic religions, African spirituality has been stigmatized by tropes of demonic practice, witchcraft, and black magic. Yet African spirituality has always served as a form of healing, protection, and resistance across the African diaspora,” Bashir explained in her project proposal. “Ultimately, I hope to understand the spiritualities that served as the foundation of my ancestors’ cultures and traditions.”

Bashir hopes to travel to South Africa, Ghana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago; however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, travel may be restricted.

Luke Lezhanskyy

Luka Lezhanskyy ’20

Lezhanskyy, an English major, hopes to spend his Watson year studying how NGOs and communities combat child trafficking in hot spots around the world through his project “The Global Campaign Against Child Trafficking.”

“An estimated 5.5 million children are trafficked worldwide. I will collaborate with NGOs engaged in anti-trafficking work in nations with a high prevalence of child trafficking,” Lezhanskyy explained in his project proposal. “In so doing I hope to understand the causes of this pernicious business, and the solutions devised to counter it.”

Lezhanskyy had planned to travel to Nepal, Romania, Senegal, and Brazil for his study, but also due to the coronavirus pandemic his travel may be restricted.

Through one-of-a-kind programs and over 100 global partnerships, the Watson Fellowship provides students with personal, professional, and cultural opportunities that expand their vision, test and develop their potential, and build their confidence and perspective to be more humane and effective leaders on a global scale.

Watson Fellows are selected from 40 private colleges and university partners across the United States. They receive $36,000 for 12 months of travel and college loan assistance as needed. Afterwards, they’ll join a community of peers who provide a lifetime of support and inspiration. Nearly 3,000 Watson Fellows have been named since the inaugural class in 1969.

Watson Fellows have gone on to become leaders in their fields, including CEOs of major corporations, college presidents, Emmy, Grammy and Oscar Award winners, Pulitzer Prize awardees, artists, diplomats, doctors, entrepreneurs, faculty, journalists, lawyers, politicians, researchers, and inspiring influencers around the world.

In 1961, the Watson Foundation was created as a charitable trust in the name of Thomas J. Watson Sr., best known for building IBM.

NESCAC Announces Winter All-Academic, All-Sportsmanship Honorees

Andrew Schwartz

Andrew Schwartz ’20, of the men’s swimming and diving team, was named to the NESCAC Winter All-Sportsmanship Team. (Photos by Steve McLaughlin)

Coleen Castro,

Women’s hockey player Coleen Castro ’20 was named to the NESCAC Winter All-Academic Team.

Wesleyan’s winter athletic teams put a total of 80 student-athletes on the 2019–20 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Winter All-Academic Team, while eight earned a spot on the 2019–20 NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team.

In order to earn a spot on the All-Academic Team, a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.50 or equivalent on a 4.0 scale. Transfer students are eligible as long as they have completed at least one year of study at the institution.

Wesleyan ranked seventh out of 11 schools with its 80 honorees.

Earth and Environmental Science Seniors Conduct Research in Hawaii

Sixteen earth and environmental science majors from the Class of 2020 recently conducted field research in Hawaii as part of their Senior Field Research course.

The class, E&ES 498, is taught by Tim Ku, chair and associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences. The course is open to students who completed E&ES 497: Senior Seminar, and focuses on improving scientific research skills.

Past classes have conducted research in Death Valley, Calif., the main island of Puerto Rico, the Connecticut River Valley, and the Big Island of Hawaii. The field research took place on the Big Island of Hawaii on Jan. 5-12 and the course concluded with student group presentations on March 3 and 5 and written reports.

The trip was funded by the Lawrence H. Davis ’76 Fund.

The students and their project titles are below:

Emmy Hughes, Avery Kaplan, Haley Brumberger, and Shuo Wang worked on a project titled "Assessing Microplastic Accumulation and Distribution on Four Beaches in Hawaii.

Shuo Wang, Haley Brumberger, Emmy Hughes,and Avery Kaplan worked on a project titled “Assessing Microplastic Accumulation and Distribution on Four Beaches in Hawaii.”

Emily Litz, Jackie Duckett, Miles Brooks, Katie Toner, and Allegra Grant worked together on a project titled "Coffee Soils: Carbon Source or Sink?"

Emily Litz, Jackie Duckett, Katie Toner, Miles Brooks, and Allegra Grant worked together on a project titled “Coffee Soils: Carbon Source or Sink?”

Hockey Wins First-Ever NESCAC Championship

hockeyOn March 8, the men’s hockey team celebrated its first-ever NESCAC Championship with a 7-2 victory over Trinity College. Although the win secured the league’s automatic bid into the 2020 NCAA Tournament, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors decided to cancel all remaining winter championships as well as the spring sports season across all divisions (I, II, and III). Wesleyan had several winter sports scheduled to compete in their respective NCAA Championships, including men’s hockey, which are affected by this news.

The Cardinals scored seven goals in just over 30 minutes of action, erasing an early deficit to thunder past No. 8 Trinity at Lansing Chapman Rink on the campus of Williams College.

hockeyThe victory was a resounding one as the fifth-seeded Cardinals scored four unanswered goals in a span of just 10:25 between the second and third periods to take a commanding 4–1 lead that proved enough in the end. Six different goal scorers lit the lamp for Wesleyan while Walker Harris ’20 finished with four points (one goal, three assists) to tie the NESCAC Championship game record for the highest point total by a single skater. One night removed from making 40 saves in the Cardinals’ semifinal win over the Ephs, Tim Sestak ’20 was tremendous once again, posting 38 saves on 40 shots-on-goal from Trinity as he continues to deliver in the postseason for Wesleyan throughout his career.

Wesleyan’s Chinese Community Raises Funds, Purchases Medical Supplies for Hospitals Treating Coronavirus Patients

Delivery photo: Xiaogan Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese

Wesleyan’s student-run group WesInAction raised funds to purchase medical equipment (pictured) for two hospitals in China. (Photo courtesy of Xiaogan Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese)

Wesleyan’s Chinese community (particularly students and parents) recently banded together to help their fellow citizens who are battling with the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

From Feb. 2–15, the student-initiated group WesInAction raised more than $23,000, which was used to purchase medical equipment for hospitals affected in the epicenter of the outbreak, Hubei province, China. WesInAction members also provide the campus community with facts about the outbreak and its prevention, and work to promote awareness of racial discrimination on campus.

WesInAction student volunteers have done extensive research on COVID-19 and created a brochure that highlights key facts and statistics about it, aiming to use knowledge to ease anxiety and further understanding of the unknowns around the virus outbreak. They also collaborated with the Wesleyan parent community in China to raise funds and to bring medical equipment directly to frontline health workers who have been reporting medical shortages in Hubei province.

Students, alumni, and Wesleyan families in China contributed to the cause.

Students Discuss Recent Engage 2020 Experiences

Over winter break, 16 students traveled to a variety of locations around the United States to support voter registration, participate in political campaigns, and work with advocacy groups as part of the Wesleyan Engage 2020 (E2020) initiative. E2020 is a comprehensive university effort to support student learning via civic engagement and liberal arts education.

On Feb. 19, students gathered in Allbritton Hall to share their reflections on their winter session E2020 experiences. Some sought to educate young people about the electoral process and mobilize them to vote; others worked on issues such as immigration, criminal justice reform, housing justice, and reproductive rights.

Students wishing to volunteer in the public sphere over academic breaks may apply to the E2020 Fund for support for associated transportation and living expenses. Students awarded support, subsequently enroll in CSPL 494—a quarter-credit course that involves orientation, structured reflection, and a final paper.

Photos and information on the students’ winter break E2020 experiences are below. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Olivia Backal-Balik

Olivia Backal-Balik ’20 worked for Philadelphia Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC) over winter break. PICC has an all-volunteer-run program that conducts voter registration at naturalization ceremonies in Philadelphia. “It’s an exciting day because there are a lot of people with their families, or older people who are finally naturalized after waiting for 25 years,” she said. “I’ve worked a lot on the other end of immigration policy, supporting people who are at risk of detention, so to be on the other end and to see people finally granted asylum is exciting. I didn’t realize how many people get naturalized weekly, and they came from so many different countries, so it was really amazing. … What I liked is that I had it in my head that the older generation is not that involved in activism or grassroots organizing, but that group was really run by older retirees who come to register people, so it was cool for me to see what they were doing.”

Solomon ’20 is Lead Author on Paper Published in Medical Journal

Eli Solomon ’20 shared a group project for Advanced Research in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience on “Oscillatory Markers of Neural Entrainment to Rhythm.”

Neuroscience and behavior major Eli Solomon ’20, pictured here presenting research at a poster session, recently co-authored a paper published in the journal Medical Care.

Lack of reliable transportation can prevent patients from making it to medical appointments or accessing other health care services.

In a recently published paper, lead author Eli Solomon ’20 explored and analyzed existing research on nonemergency medical transportation interventions. The article, titled “Impact of Transportation Interventions on Health Care Outcomes: A Systematic Review,” was published in the American Public Health Association journal Medical Care.

Solomon, a neuroscience and behavior major on a pre-med path, wrote the paper based on research he conducted in summer 2018 with peers at the University of California, San Francisco. While at UCSF, Solomon worked for San Francisco General Hospital, tackling social determinants of health with patients in the pediatric primary care clinic.

Solomon and his mentors searched three databases (Embase, PubMed, and Google) for studies of health care sector-sponsored programs that provided patients with assistance with nonemergency transportation, and directly assessed the impact of transportation assistance on health and health care utilization outcomes. Studies meeting inclusion criteria were graded for quality using standard grading criteria.

Recent Media Hits

NewsWesleyan in the News

  1. Connecticut Public Radio: “The Struggle for Sleep: Why More School Districts Are Considering Later Starts”

Speaking as both a scholar and a mother, Associate Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman comments in this story on the movement to push schools in the state to start later. “People ask me, as a developmental psychologist, ‘Oh, we have this mental health crisis in the state, what are we going to do, what should we be funding, what kind of resources do we need to build in?’ And I just think it’s so silly when we have such a straightforward solution that has such large, measurable impacts.”

2. The Washington Post: “For the Super Bowl, Bloomberg and Trump Are Each Spending $10 Million on Ads”

Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler and her colleagues on the Wesleyan Media Project write about what makes political advertising in the 2020 election cycle look so different (hint: two self-funded billionaires are blowing up existing records) and the unusual decision by candidates Michael Bloomberg and President Donald Trump to spend $10 million each to reach nearly 100 million American viewers at the same time. Fowler was also recently interviewed on Marketplace about political advertising.

3. Transitions Online: “Russian Government Reshuffle: Plus ça Change”

Peter Rutland, the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, Professor of Government, analyzes the recent mass resignation of the Russian government following a surprise announcement from Russian President Vladamir Putin that he was rewriting the constitution. There is much unclear about the changes, including why Putin chose to make them at this time, and what the impact will be on Russia’s government. What is clear, Rutland writes, is that “Russia’s political system is broken” due to Putin’s constant tinkering with the country’s political institutions “to create the appearance of change while retaining power in his own hands.”

4. The Middletown Press: “Wesleyan Student Heading to Hollywood Among Writers of the Future Winners”

Venture by Price ’20 Wins 2019 Changemaker Challenge

Anthony Price

Anthony Price

Be the Change Venture (BCV), a nonprofit organization founded and led by Anthony Price ’20, has been chosen as a 2019 Changemaker Challenge Winner by T-Mobile and Ashoka.

BCV was one of 30 winners selected from 300 applicants for the Ashoka-T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge, a yearly prize that supports young changemakers across the United States and Puerto Rico.

BCV aims to train and empower young people to be workforce-ready. It works with youth aged 14 to 18 to help them develop soft and practical skills, find and obtain internship and job opportunities, and foster professional relationships with various career experts. The organization operates in the Lincoln, Neb., and Cleveland, Ohio, areas.

As challenge winners, Price and one team member have been invited to attend the T-Mobile Changemaker Lab, held in Seattle on February 19­–21, with all expenses paid.

15 Seniors Elected to Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society

phi beta kappa 2019

On Dec. 4, 15 students from the Class of 2020 were elected to Wesleyan’s scholastic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa.

To be elected, a student must first have been nominated by the department of his or her major. The student also must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations and must have achieved a GPA of 93 or above.

Wesleyan’s Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa Society was organized in 1845 and is the ninth oldest chapter in the country.

Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest surviving Greek letter society in America, founded in December 1776 by five students who attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The emblem contains the three Greek letters “Phi,” “Beta,” and “Kappa,” which are the initials of the Greek motto, Philosophia Biou Kybernetes. This essentially means “the love of wisdom is the guide of life.”

The fall 2019 inductees and their major(s) are: