Tag Archive for Class of 2020
by Olivia Drake •
Scattered throughout campus are remnants of not only Wesleyan’s history, but world history. After the closing of the Wesleyan Museum in 1957, thousands of specimens in many collections were displaced, often haphazardly, to nooks, crannies, tunnels, attics, storage rooms, and random cabinets at Exley Science Center, Judd Hall, and the Butterfield and Foss Hill residence complexes.
Many of these specimens haven’t been accessed in 60 years.
“Sadly, few people are aware that Wesleyan has these unique resources,” said Ellen Thomas, the University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences and research professor of earth and environmental sciences. “The collections have not been well curated, and not much used in education and outreach. We are discovering beautiful fossils, but the knowledge that they are at Wesleyan has long been lost.”
This summer, Thomas, along with two student research fellows, began the painstaking process of not only locating and organizing collections, but digitally cataloging their finds.
Sajirat Palakarn ’20 and earth and environmental science graduate student Melissa McKee ’17 work 40 hours a week on the project and have created a “fossil assembly line” in Exley Room 309. The students take turns sorting trays of fossils by class and phylum, and then match the fossils with identifying hand-written cards or books from an archaic card catalog, entering the information, piece by piece, into a spreadsheet. They’re expecting to itemize more than 15,000 fossils this summer.
“Look here,” Thomas says, while opening a wooden cabinet at random in Exley’s specimen storage room. “We’ve got shells, fossils of shells, one after another with no labels. They are all disorganized. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make these accessible to the students?”
So far, the students have discovered dozens of fish fossils from the Jurassic Period (99.6 to 145.5 million years ago) and Triassic Period (251 million and 199 million years ago). They’ve encountered fossils of preserved leaves and insects from what is today Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, dating back to the Eocene Period, when the world was much warmer (40-45 million years ago). They’ve also found fossilized plants from coal deposits in Illinois (about 300 million years old), as well as fossil sea lilies (crinoids), which lived in shallow warm seas in what is now Indiana. Many of these fossils were collected by S. Ward Loper, who was curator of the Wesleyan Museum from 1894 to his death in 1910.
They’ve even discovered a plant fossil from Greenland, donated to the Wesleyan Museum in 1895 by A.N. Varse, who was on the second relief expedition attempting to assist Robert Peary on one of his early expeditions to explore Greenland and reach the North Pole.
“It’s really incredible to hold a piece of history like this in our hands,” McKee said. “Not only can fossils tell us what an organism might have looked like and how it lived, but fossils also give us clues about ancient environmental conditions. We can use fossils to understand how the Earth has changed over time.”
While most of the fossil finds are located in locked drawers in the hallways of Exley Science Center, the students also are cataloging fossils in the Joe Webb Peoples Fossil Collection, located on the fourth floor. The museum is named after the late Professor Joe Webb Peoples, who was chair of the Department of Geology from 1935 until his retirement in 1975.
McKee and Palakarn, a College of Social Studies major, are constantly learning on the job. “I don’t have a science background, but here I am learning about unicellular microorganisms, sponges, coral, arthropods, trilobites and sea urchins,” Palakarn said.
“I know by the end of this summer you’re going to change your major to earth and environmental science,” McKee said. “I’m sure of it.”
by Olivia Drake •
Students who received academic prizes, fellowships and scholarships were honored at a reception May 10 in Daniel Family Commons.
Among the awardees were Mira Klein ’17, who received the White Fellowship for government and the Robert Schumann Distinguished Student Award for demonstrating academic accomplishment and excellence in environmental stewardship; Page Nelson ’17, who received the Alumni Prize in the History of Art; Eric Meyreles ’18, who received a Miller Summer Internship Grant to pursue an internship related to a potential business career; Ainsley Eakins ’18, who received the university’s Social Activist Award; Sofi Goode ’17, who is the recipient of the Wilde Prize for excellence in economics; and AJ Wilson ’19, who was honored with the Richard McLellan Prize for commitment to public service and diversity.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Every Thursday morning, beginning at 6 a.m., Dalton Garver ’20 finds himself at Yale University engaged in physical training—ranging from weightlifting to running to core circuits. This is followed by marching practice, a review of Warrior Knowledge, and, on occasion, lectures from guest speakers about the Armed Services.
Garver, of Fresno, Calif., is believed to be the first Wesleyan student to participate in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at Yale. He joined this semester, but first decided to do ROTC as a junior in high school after talking to his brother’s friend about his own experience in the Army ROTC at Fresno State.
“I joined because I have always wanted to be a lawyer as well as serve our country,” said Garver, who plans to major in psychology. “I felt becoming a JAG (Judge Advocate General) for the Air Force would be a great way to do so.”
by Olivia Drake •
During her fall semester First-Year Seminars intensive writing course, Gina Savoy ’20 investigated the career of artist Vincent van Gogh and penned an essay titled “The Church: A Lifelong Obstacle for Vincent van Gogh.”
On March 28, Savoy’s essay took top prize at the Endeavor Foundation First-Year Seminar Essay Contest. She and four other first-year students received cash awards ranging from $250 to $75 and a book, selected by their course instructor. With support from The Endeavor Foundation of New York, Wesleyan was able to offer the offer inaugural awards ceremony and celebrate the success of 43 FYS in the fall, and 10 this spring.
First-Year Seminars are writing intensive courses that introduce students to a variety of topics ranging from Greek mythology to neuroscience. Faculty teaching these classes highlight the type of writing associated with their respective disciplines, and help students develop, compose, organize and revise their writing.
“All first-year students at Wesleyan are strong students, but even still, they arrive with a range of writing abilities,” said Meg Furniss Weisberg, visiting assistant professor of French, interim director of academic writing.
During the FYS program, faculty teach students the specifics of college-level academic writing: formulating an original, debatable claim; supporting that claim with textual and scholarly evidence; making analytical rather than simply observational arguments; and synthesizing one’s points into an effective conclusion. Faculty also expose students to scholarly and critical articles, as well as teach them about this new kind of reading, thinking and writing.
In addition, the structure of the courses, which favor multiple drafts and peer workshops as well as feedback from the instructor, fosters an environment of individual and collective progress, rather than of pure skill acquisition.
“The first year of a student’s time at Wesleyan should be a time of exploration, of expanding intellectual boundaries, and taking some intellectual risks,” Weisberg said.
Savoy, who was enrolled in the Arts and Art History course Van Gogh and the Myth of Genius, taught by Katherine Kuenzli, associate professor of art history, associate professor of German studies, focused her essay on van Gogh’s tumultuous relationship with religion, specifically the church, which is illustrated through his increasing incorporation of nature in his work throughout his nearly decade-long artistic career. “Although van Gogh had to find a new source to satisfy his unwavering desire for religious meaning in his life, his resentment towards the traditional church did not translate to abandoning the subject in his artwork,” Savoy said.
Her paper examines several of van Gogh’s works that feature a church motif and uses the painting The Church at Auvers, completed in the last few months of his life in 1890, to analyze his nearly two-decade long religious transformation. “The evolution of the church motif in his work supports the argument that nature provided van Gogh a sense of meaning and purpose the church never could,” Savoy said. “This reality is reflected in his complete substitution of Christianity for nature in his work in the last few years of his life.”
Other essay winners included:
Daniel Atik ’20 took second place in a tie with his essay “Converted Bells: An Exploration of Religious Power Dynamics,” written in his College of Letters 120 course, Muslims, Jews, and Christians, Getting Along in the Medieval World. The class was taught by Melissa Katz, visiting assistant professor of Romance languages and literatures.
Maya Bernstein-Schalet ’20 also took second place with her essay, “Mocking the World in The Life of Symeon the Fool,” written in her College of Letters 150 course, Great Books UnBound. The class was taught by Tushar Irani, associate professor of letters, associate professor of philosophy.
Sophie Dora Tulchin ’20 took third place with her essay, “Subtleties of Subversion,” French in Translation 123 course, Love, Sex, and Marriage in Renaissance Europe. The class was taught by Michael Meere, assistant professor of French.
Benjamin Glass ’20 took honorable mention with his essay, “The Art of Stability. An Anatomical Explanation of a Mechanical Clock,” written in his Physics 162 course, It’s About Time. The class was taught by Lutz Hüwel, professor of physics.
During the ceremony, Ellen Nerenberg, dean of the Arts and Humanities and the Hollis Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, presented the the students with their awards, and Meg Furniss Weisberg presented the students with a a book chosen by their course instructor. Contest judges included Nerenberg, Weisberg and Wesleyan faculty Andrew Curran, Marc Eisner and Joyce Jacobsen.
Photos of the awards ceremony are below:
by Michael O'Brien •
Hannah O’Halloran ’20 and Caroline Murphy ’20 of the women’s swimming and diving team competed in the NCAA Division III National Championships, which were held March 15-18 at the Conroe ISD Natatorium in Shenandoah, Texas.
“Having two freshman swimmers qualify for the NCAA national championships is an incredible achievement,” explained Mike O’Brien, director of athletic communication. “This means that they’re among the top Division III swimmers in the country in their respective events.”
O’Halloran competed in the 200-yard backstroke event, where she was seeded eighth with a time of 2:01.62. In the preliminaries, she touched the wall in a time of 2:02.06, and went onto swim a 2:03.52 in the finals, which placed her 16th overall.
Murphy, who was seeded fourth in the 100-yard backstroke with a mark of 55.64, finished 11th in the preliminaries with a mark of 55.92. In the consolation finals, she touched the wall in 55.90 to place 13th overall. Murphy also won the NESCAC Championship in the 50-yard backstroke, prior to the national championship meet, to become the first Wesleyan women’s swimmer or diver to ever win a conference title.
In addition, both student-athletes were named Honorable Mention All-Americans.
by Olivia Drake •
On March 4, members of the student activist organization Sophia traveled to New York City to attend the Community Party USA Unity Rally and discussion against racism, sexism and all forms of bigotry with special guest and keynote speaker Angela Davis.
Inspired by the rising necessity for constructive solidarity and community, Sophia founder and president, Posse veteran scholar Gabe Hurlock ’20 created the organization to promote inclusion, multiculturalism, and personhood on the Wesleyan campus and in the Middletown community. The organization focuses on critical philosophy and conceptualization of social justice issues through community organization.
The rally featured Jamaican author and poet Staceyann Chin and political activist Angela Davis as the keynote speaker. Davis is known internationally for her ongoing work to combat all forms of oppression in the U.S. and abroad. She is a founding member of Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. The main topic of the evening was cultivating unity and winning a wide-ranging program of reforms that put the well being of people and the planet before private profits.
“I intended for this trip to demonstrate that the act of solidarity requires more than simply being intellectually aware of the disparities plaguing our society, because activism is central to philosophy,” Hurlock said. “After meeting Angela Davis, we all gained a refreshed perspective on what it really means to fight for what you believe in. The prosperity of humanity depends heavily on our capacity to speak up and defend justice everywhere.”
The trip was sponsored by Wesleyan’s Office for Equity and Inclusion and the Student Budget Committee.
by Cynthia Rockwell •
As the football teams readied for play on Corwin Stadium on Saturday of Family Weekend, alumni parents joined their first-year students—along with President Michael Roth ’78 and the Wesleyan Cardinal—for the annual Legacy Photograph on Denison Terrace.
This year, the gathering included:
Bottom row, from left: Alfredo Viegas ’90, P’20, Alessandra Viegas ’20, and Dora Viegas P’20; Sarafina Fabris-Green ’20 and Laurie Green ’80 P’20; Miranda Nestor ’20 and Matthew Nestor ’87 P’20; Elizabeth Eagles ’19 and Kate Homrighausen Eagles ’82, P’19; Gillian Lubin ’20 and Brad Lubin ’87, P’20; Tom Policelli ’89, P’20 and Katherine Policelli ’20; Simone Roberts-Payne ’20, Jackie Roberts ’82 P’20.
Middle row, from left: President Michael Roth ’79; Lisabeth Weinstein-Gertner ’87, P’20 and Emelia Gertner ’20; Peter Sachner P’20, Peter Reilly Yurkovsky ’20, and Tricia Reilly ’83, P’20; Charlotte Sonnenblick Van Doren ’84 P’20, Henry Van Doren ’20, and Adam Van Doren P’20; Katharine L. McKenna ’79 P’20, Eliza McKenna ’20, and Mark Braunstein P’20; Emilio Jared Weber ’20 and David Weber ’86, P’20; Elaine Taylor-Klaus ’86,P’20, Sydney Taylor-Klaus ’20; Ryan Keeth ’20 and Dana Bresee Keeth ’79; Amanda Lea Farnam ’17, David Eggers ’82, P’17, and Suzanne Farman ’82, P’17.
Top row, from left: The Wesleyan Cardinal; Lynn Kelly Alberding ’89 P’20, Jack Alberding ’20, and Peter Alberding ’89, P’20; Gregoire Vion P’20, Julien Vion ’20, and Peggy Macy ’85 P’20; Mark Leuchten ’82, P’19 and Emma Leuchten ’19; Julie Robinson P’20, Stephen Ferruolo ’20, and Stephen Ferruolo ’71, P’20; Shawn Burgess’88, P’20, Ellen Burgess ’88, P’20, and Ramsay Burgess ’20; Diane Kolyer ’82, P’20 and Jake Abraham ’20; Silvia Waltner P’20, Olivia Waltner ’20, and Alexander Waltner, the family of the late Nick Waltner ’86, P’20.
(Photos by John Van Vlack)
by Olivia Drake •
The Center for the Arts hosted the Common Moment Sept. 2 on Andrus Field. As one of the culminating experiences of New Student Orientation, the Common Moment brought the Class of 2020 together as they experienced cultures and dance from around the world. Prometheus, Wesleyan’s fire-spinning group, also performed during the Common Moment.
Photos of the event are below and in this Wesleyan Center for the Arts photo gallery. (Photos by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography)
by Olivia Drake •
Wesleyan welcomed more than 840 new, transfer, international and exchange students and their families to the Wesleyan community on Aug. 31.
Nick Ticali ’20 left home in Long Island, N.Y. at 5:30 a.m. to make it to Wesleyan early. His sister, Allana, and father, Vinny, helped Nick move his belongings into his West College student residence.
“I’m really excited about Wesleyan’s interdisciplinary, cross-curriculum majors, because I want to study biology and theater,” he said. Nick played varsity soccer in high school and may play club soccer at Wesleyan.
Nancy Auerbach helped her daughter Dalia ’20 move to her room in Bennet Hall on Arrival Day. The Auerbach family is from Claremont, Calif. Dalia, who has relatives in Boston, looked forward to attending college on the East Coast. “I have a lot of energy and I love doing things, so I am excited for all the activities Wesleyan has to offer,” Dalia said.
Mary McAllister ’20 of Westchester, N.Y., received Arrival Day help from her parents Maureen and Don. “I chose Wesleyan for its diversity, the open curriculum, and openness of thought,” Mary said.
by Olivia Drake •
Wesleyan welcomed more than 140 international students and U.S. citizens living abroad to campus this week. On Aug. 30, they gathered for a group photo, dinner and skits.
Sixteen percent of the entire Class of 2020 hail from 34 other countries including Austria and Belgium to Tanzania, Tunisia and the Ukraine.
“This is the most truly global class in Wesleyan history with students of more than 50 nationalities who bring an incredible range of international, multicultural backgrounds and experiences to the Wesleyan community,” said Nancy Hargrave Meislahn, dean of admission and financial aid.
After arriving on campus Aug. 27-28, the Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) hosted International Student Orientation. ISO is held prior to New Student Orientation in order for students coming from across the the globe to recover from travel. ISO offers sessions that address health and medical insurance issues, programs about cultural adaptation, weather adjustment, and liberal arts education, as well as informational sessions about U.S. systems that many international students may not be familiar with or that are different from their home country.
Photos of the international students are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)
by Olivia Drake •
During WesFest, April 13-15, the Office of Admission invited all Class of 2020 admitted students and their families to visit Wesleyan and experience university life first-hand. The three-day celebration allowed admitted students to explore the diverse opportunities that a Wesleyan education has to offer.
Activities included campus tours, an all-campus barbecue, student band performances, a Student Activities Fair, department open houses, daily fitness classes, student-to-student and parent-to-parent panels, an a cappella concert, opportunities to attend classes and academic department open houses, and much more!
Alumni Keynote Speaker, Bozoma Saint John ’99, head of global consumer marketing for Apple Music and iTunes, delivered the WesFest keynote address on April 15. In the fall of 2014, she was inducted in the American Advertising Federation Hall of Achievement and she now serves on the Hall of Achievement Executive Committee.