Tag Archive for Class of 2020

Students Attend Banquet to Support Local Women and Children

At left, Luke Lezhanskyy ’20, Sam Medrano ’19, Kati Young ’19, Joy Adedokun ’19, Shantel Sosa ’21, Rebeca Martinez ’20, Father Bill Wallace, and Adjunct Professor of Spanish Octavio Flores-Cuadra, gather at a fundraiser for Middletown’s ABC Women’s Center on April 4.

On April 4, students from Wesleyan for Women and Children (WesWAC) attended a fundraiser dinner banquet for ABC Women’s Center at St. Clement’s Castle in Portland, Conn. They were accompanied by University Roman Catholic Chaplain Father Bill Wallace, Adjunct Professor of Spanish Octavio Flores-Cuadra, and several members of the community.

ABC Women’s Center provides free and confidential pregnancy resources and services to women and families in the greater Middletown area. Since the nonprofit doesn’t receive federal funding, all services are supported by individual contributions, donations, and fundraisers.

The banquet’s theme was Strong As She. Proceeds will help ABC with its new initiatives such as group parenting classes.

“Attending the ABC Women’s Center banquet for the first time is one of my Wesleyan highlights,” said WesWAC member Sam Medrano ’19. “The passion, soul, and strength that I witnessed from the women who spoke at this life-affirming event is truly amazing. I’m proud to support a vital Middletown organization that women rely on for free pregnancy services.”

Students Volunteer at Nonprofits during Interfaith Service Trip

During the Interfaith Service Trip, representatives from Wesleyan volunteered at the Manna House Soup Kitchen in Newtown, N.J.

During the Interfaith Service Trip held over spring break, representatives from Wesleyan volunteered at the Manna House Soup Kitchen in Newtown, N.J.

Wesleyan students and staff traveled to Johnsonburg, N.J., March 18-22 to participate in the fourth annual Office of Religious and Spiritual Life Interfaith Service Trip. The group had representation from the Protestant, Catholic, and Muslim communities.

The student participants included Nacala Gadsden ’21, Joy Adedokun ’19, Fitzroy Pablo Wickham ’21, Brynn Assignon ’20, and Fatima Sepulveda ’21. The trip was led by University Chaplain Rev. Tracy Mehr-Muska and Sandy Durosier ’13, area coordinator for residential life.

“The purpose of the trip was to engage in community service and learn about other faiths,” Mehr-Muska said.

The group stayed at the faith-based Johnsonburg Camp and Retreat Center and volunteered their time at the Barnyard Sanctuary in Johnsonburg; Trinity Methodist Church Thrift Shop in Hackettstown, N.J.; and Manna House Soup Kitchen in Newton, N.J.

“Each of these incredible nonprofits happened to be run by women, and the students were able to see the complexity and rewarding nature of developing and sustaining important, life-giving community organizations,” Mehr-Muska said.

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

Mackenzie Mitchell '20 and Edelina (Lina) Marzouk '19

Mackenzie Mitchell ’20 and Lina Marzouk ’19 were inducted into the ASBMB Honor Society. (Photo by Olivia Drake MALS ’08)

Two Wesleyan students were inducted into the 2019 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Honor Society in March. They are among only 33 students from around the country who were eligible to join the society this year.

The inductees, Mackenzie Mitchell ’20 and Edelina (Lina) Marzouk ’19 are both majoring in molecular biology and biochemistry and the Science in Society Program. They are both members of the ASBMB Student Chapters, have a GPA of over 3.4 on a 4.0 scale, and have demonstrated exceptional achievement in academics, undergraduate research, and science outreach.

The students were recognized by the Molecular Biology & Biochemistry Department during a reception on March 27.

Mackenzie Mitchell says the “dynamism of scientific study, as well as the complete integration of problem-solving,” have been the greatest influences over her decision to study science. Since enrolling at Wesleyan, Mitchell has furthered her interests by participating in research with Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Amy MacQueen’s research group.

Shumway ’20 Wins TEDxWesleyanU Student Speaker Competition

Dylan Shumway '20 will share his talk titled, "Small Moments" during the April 27 conference.

Dylan Shumway ’20 will share his talk titled “Small Moments” during the TEDxWesleyanU conference on April 27.

During Wesleyan’s second annual TEDxWesleyanU in April, a Wesleyan junior will have the opportunity to deliver a 10-minute talk alongside numerous distinguished alumni and guest speakers.

As the inaugural TEDxWesleyanU Student Speaker Competition winner, Dylan Shumway ’20 will share his talk titled “Small Moments” at the April 27 conference.

“My talk focuses on how small interactions we have on a daily basis can impact our lives on a larger scale, and that we should utilize their impact to foster positive change,” Shumway said. “Developing a TED talk was a fun and engaging challenge because it has allowed me to synthesize my life experience into something that could potentially help others! The topic is one that I often discuss and share with friends and family.”

TEDxWesleyanU was founded by a team of students on the principle of broadening thought diversity on campus and beyond. During the inaugural conference, the TEDxWesleyanU team invited changemakers and thought leaders from medicine, art, music, business, and more, to present.

“For the second annual conference, the team thought that featuring a student perspective in addition to the other innovative thinkers would be critical in furthering our mission,” said TEDxWesleyanU cofounder and lead organizer Eunes Harun ’20.

Student-Led Ventures Win $5,000 Entrepreneurship Seed Grants

Sydney Ochieng ’22, founder of Accessible and Affordable Sanitation for Women (AASW), is one of four recipients to receive a 2019 Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE) Seed Grant. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

On March 4, not three, but four student-run ventures received $5,000 seed grants from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE). The unrestricted funding is accompanied with training, advising, mentoring, incubator workspace, and other resources from the Patricelli Center.

On March 1, six finalists pitched for a panel of judges in Allbritton 311.

“As always, the competition was steep, and the judges had a tough time selecting grantees,” said Makaela Kingsley ’98, director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “In fact, this year they decided to make a special donation to the Patricelli Center so we could offer four grants instead of the usual three.”

Poulos, Students Collaborate on 2 Publications

Helen PoulosHelen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, is the coauthor of two published papers in February.

Response of Arizona cypress (Hesperocyparis arizonica) to the Horseshoe Two Megafire in a south-eastern Arizona Sky Island mountain range,” is published in the February issue of International Journal of Wildland Fire (Issue 28, pages 62-69). It is coauthored by Andrew Barton, professor of biology at the University of Maine at Farmington.

This study documents the effects of the 2011 Horseshoe Two Fire in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona on Arizona Cypress. Two Wesleyan students, Hunter Vannier ’20 and Michael Freiburger ’21 assisted with the fieldwork in 2018 as part of their College of the Environment summer fellowships.

The group documented the effects of a fire-sensitive tree species that survives wildfire through fire-induced seed release (serotiny). On sites subject to severe fire, most mature cypresses were killed, the canopy opened, and seedlings established abundantly. Their results firmly establish Arizona cypress as a fire-sensitive but fire-embracing species that depends on stand-replacing fire (the loss of overstory trees) for regeneration.

“A drier future with more frequent wildfires could pose serious threats to all New World cypresses if these species do not have enough time between fire events to reach sexual maturity,” Poulos explained.

The second paper, titled “Invasive species and carbon flux: the case of invasive beavers (Castor canadensis) in riparian Nothofagus forests of Tierra del Fuego, Chile” was published in the February issue of Climatic Change. It is coauthored by biology major Chloe Papier ’17 and Alejandro Kusch of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Punta Arenas, Chile.

For this study, Papier completed a month of fieldwork in Patagonia on a College of the Environment winter fellowship.

The researchers documented the effects of invasive North American beavers (Castor canadensis) on carbon sequestration of riparian Nothofagus forests in Tierra del Fuego, Chile. Their results suggest that beaver invasion can result in major differences between aboveground carbon in invaded versus un-invaded forest stands.

Gary Yohe, professor of economics; the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies; and professor, environmental studies; serves as the coeditor in chief of the journal.

6 Students Honored for Creative Writing, Poetry, Essays

Caridad Cruz, Oriana Ullman, Doc Polk, Nic Guo, Natalie Ruby, and Sahara Sidi.

Caridad Cruz ’21, Oriana Ullman ’21, Doc Polk ’19, Nic Guo ’20, Natalie Ruby ’19, and Sahara Sidi ’22 presented readings at Russell House on Feb. 13. All six students are recipients of creative writing and English Department Prizes. (Photo by Douglas Martin, assistant director of creative writing)

Six Wesleyan students were recently honored by Creative Writing at Wesleyan and the English Department.

Caridad Cruz ’21 is the recipient of the Sophie and Anne Reed Prize. Established by Leon Reed; his sons, S. Chadwick ’41 and Dr. Victor Reed; and his grandson Ted Reed ’70, the prize is named in memory of Sophie Reed and Anne Reed, for the best poem or group of poems.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. Wall Street International Magazine: “Tula Telfair: Reverie”

Professor of Art Tula Telfair’s new exhibition of landscape paintings, “Reverie,” is presented Feb. 7 through March 30 at the Forum Gallery in New York. According to the article, “In the fourteen paintings that comprise ‘Reverie,’ she explores the inner reaches of her dreams and memories, taking us to places she has been or believes in so fully that she is able to portray and take the viewer to the essential, emotional center of every location as she recalls not only the place, but the sense of discovery, of wonder she felt as she found it.”

2. Hartford Courant: “Don’t Throw Away Your Shot: Wesleyan University Expands Hamilton Prize for Creativity Scholarship”

The Courant reports on news that beginning this year, three incoming students will have an opportunity to be recognized for their outstanding creative work under Wesleyan’s prestigious Hamilton Prize for Creativity. In addition to the grand prize—a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Wesleyan—the University will also award two honorable mentions, along with $5,000 grants to support creative work. The announcement was also covered in Playbill and The Middletown Press.

3. NBC Connecticut: “National Girls and Women in Sports Day Encourages Girls to Get Out and Play”

5 Students Receive NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium Fellowships, Awards

Two graduate students and three undergraduate students are recipients of Fall 2018 NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium (CTSGC) awards. They are among 39 students from 13 CTSGC academic affiliate institutions to be honored.

NASA CTSGC is a federally mandated grant, internship, and scholarship program that is funded as a part of NASA Education. There are Space Grant Consortia in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Earth and environmental science graduate student Christina Cauley received an $8,000 Graduate Research Fellowship for her project “Chemistry and Biology of Giant Hydrothermal Mounds in Paulina Lake, Oregon.” Her advisor is Joop Varekamp, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science and Smith Curator of Mineralogy and Petrology of the Joe Webb Peoples Museum of Natural History. Varekamp also is professor of earth and environmental sciences; professor, environmental studies; and professor, Latin American studies.

Astronomy major Hunter Vannier ’20 received a $5,000 Undergraduate Research Fellowship for his project titled “Using Hubble to Look Back at the Sun’s Historical Trajectory Through the Local Interstellar Medium.” Vannier’s advisor is Seth Redfield, chair and associate professor of astronomy. Redfield also is associate professor, integrative sciences, and co-coordinator, planetary science.

Three other students received $1,000 Student Travel Grants, which covered travel expenses to attend the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Seattle, Wash., in January.

At the meeting, Astronomy major Michael Henderson ’19 presented his senior thesis research titled “High Precision Photometry of Faint White Dwarf Stars from K2 Data.” Henderson’s advisor is Seth Redfield.

Astronomy graduate student Ismael Mireles, presented his master’s thesis research on “Searching for planets around the brightest stars in K2.” Mireles’s advisor is Seth Redfield.

And astronomy graduate student Anthony Santini ’18 presented his BA/MA thesis research titled “Determining Fundamental Properties of Galaxies with X-ray Binary Correlations.” Santini’s advisor is Roy Kilgard, associate professor of the practice in astronomy and associate professor of the practice, integrative sciences.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

1. Los Angeles Times“As the World Warms, Deadly and Disfiguring Tropical Diseases Are Inching Their Way Toward the U.S.”

In this op-ed, Professor of Biology Frederick Cohan and Isaac Klimasmith ’20, both in the College of the Environment, write that infectious disease is a growing threat, resulting from climate change, that humans may find hard to ignore. Cohan is also professor, environmental studies and professor, integrative sciences.

2. Hartford Courant: “Trump’s Immoral Response to Climate Report”

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, writes in this op-ed that it is “irresponsible” and “immoral” to ignore the findings of a major new report on climate change. Delaying action to mitigate and adapt to climate change will be increasingly damaging and expensive, he writes. Yohe is also professor of economics and professor, environmental studies, and was a reviewer on the new National Climate Assessment. He also recently co-authored an op-ed in HuffPost titled “People Are Already Dying by the Thousands Because We Ignored Earlier Climate Change Warnings.” 

3. National Geographic: “Both of NASA’s Voyager Spacecraft Are Now Interstellar. Where to Next?”

With both of NASA’s twin Voyager spacecraft now having crossed the threshold into interstellar space, Seth Redfield, associate professor and chair of astronomy, comments on what the spacecraft are likely to encounter on their journey. Redfield is also associate professor, integrative sciences, and co-coordinator of Planetary Science.

4. Inside Higher Ed: “Ordinary Education in Extraordinary Times”

President Michael Roth writes in this op-ed that in uncommon times, “traditional educational practices of valuing learning from people different from ourselves have never been more important.”

Recent Alumni News

  1. The Takeaway; WNYC Studios: “Politics with Amy Walter: Pentagon’s First-Ever Audit Exposes Massive Accounting Fraud”

David Lindorff ’71, the investigative journalist who wrote an exclusive on the topic for The Nation, joins Walter’s guests—including Staff Sergeant Patricia King, Ambassador Eric Edelman, and Dr. Isaiah Wilson III, a retired Army colonel and senior lecturer with Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs—to discuss military spending and its alignment with the military’s strategic goals.

8 Undergraduates Make Presentations at Arts and Humanities Symposium

Eight Wesleyan students participated in the CTW Undergraduate Symposium in the Arts and Humanities held at Trinity College in November.

Eight Wesleyan students presented papers during the inaugural CTW (Connecticut College, Trinity College, Wesleyan University) Undergraduate Symposium in the Arts and Humanities on Nov. 10.

This symposium, hosted at Trinity, provided undergraduate students from the three partner institutions, as well as other institutions in the region, an opportunity to present their original scholarly work in a professional setting. Topics included languages and literatures, philosophy, theater and dance, art history, women’s studies, cultural studies, ethnic studies, religious studies, film studies, and more.

Paper submissions were accepted by a committee of faculty members.

During a panel on The Construction of Spaces, Teresa Naval ’19 spoke on “Corrugated Cartographies: Performing the Balikbayan Box” and Asa Spurlock ’20 presented his paper titled “Nature and Stone: A Mythology of Central Park.”

Aviv Rau ’19 presented his paper titled “Queering the ‘Quails’: The Making of White Womanhood at Wesleyan University 1872–1912” during a Considering Gender panel.

Visiting international student Victoria Bianchi spoke on “Sicily and the Dar-al-Islam: Multiculturalism in the pre-Crusading Mediterranean,” during a panel on Culture, Identity, Nation, and State.

As part of a panel on Negotiating Identity in France and the Francophone World, Sophie Tulchin ’20 presented her paper titled “Performing Diaspora: Mohamed Kacimi’s Babel Taxi (2005).”

Tomas Rogel ’19 presented a talk on “These Are Not People, These Are Animals: An Analysis of the American Perception of Salvadorans” during a panel focusing on Giving Voice to the Voiceless.

Lizzie Whitney ’19 spoke on “Refugee Crisis in German Literature” during a panel on The Production of Culture across Borders.

And during a panel on Ancient Texts, Benjamin Sarraille ’19 shared his paper titled “Measure for Measure: Translating the Illiad of Homer.”

In addition to sharing their own work, the students had the opportunity to participate in 16 different panels and attend a keynote lecture by Maurice Samuels, the Betty Jane Anlyan Professor of French and Chair of the Department of French at Yale University.

Support for this symposium was provided in part by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Submission guidelines and further information are online here.

Posse Fellow Rodriguez ’20 Helps Establish Inaugural Film Screenings through Arts in the Armed Forces

Pictured in center, Wesleyan Posse Veteran Scholar Daní Rodríguez ’20 recently arranged for a group from Wesleyan to travel to New York City to attend a film screening offered by the Arts in the Armed Forces. (Photos by Jenn Emerling)

On Sept. 22, several members of the Wesleyan community traveled to New York City to attend the Arts in the Armed Forces (AITAF) inaugural Student Veteran Film Screening. AITAF is a nonprofit organization that brings the best of contemporary theater and film screenings to veterans across the world free of charge.

Several Wesleyan Posse Fellows attended the screening.

Thirty people from Wesleyan attended, including 17 Wesleyan Student Veteran Organization (WESVO) members; 10 family and friends, 2 nonveteran students; and 1 faculty member.

While in New York, the group watched a screening of The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974), a film about a New York City subway train hijacking. The film was recommended to AITAF by actor/producer Ben Stiller, whose father, comedian Jerry Stiller, is a WWII veteran and acted in the film. Ben Stiller and Adam Driver, AITAF’s founder, participated in a Q&A session with the guests following the film. Emmy-nominated actor Driver (Star Wars, Logan Lucky, Girls) was an honorably discharged U.S. Marine who later attended the Juilliard School and found difficulties readjusting to civilian life. However, his experiences with the arts transformed his life.

The trip was organized by Wesleyan Posse Veteran Scholar Daní Rodríguez ’20, a 14-year U.S. Marines Corps veteran who interned for the AITAF last summer. While active, Staff Sergeant Rodríguez participated in multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s also been deployed to Korea, Japan, and U.S. Naval Ships abroad.

Like Driver, Rodríguez is pursuing film and acting in his post-military life.

“I understand the challenges veterans face within our own veteran community,” he said. “Generally, the arts are not prioritized in or out of the military and is perceived as a hobby or entertainment rather than a profession or tool. I know this because I was one of those people that thought of it that way.”

Donning a Wesleyan cap, Daní Rodríguez illuminates a scene for a student’s senior thesis in 2017.

Rodríguez discovered that his love for playing guitar and acting could be much more.

“I quickly began drawing the parallels between those disciplines to the newfound mental stability and empathy that has been transformative. Now, cathartic experiences are frequent in my life and I have become calmer and more articulate about my own emotions,” he said.

Last summer, Rodríguez received a Summer Experience Grant funded by the Gordon Career Center. With this support, he was able to volunteer with the AITAF and raise awareness of the program through advocacy and outreach. Rodríguez generated interest with fellow veterans at Columbia University, New York University, Pace University, the City University of New York, and others, and ultimately helped create the inaugural Student Veteran Film Screening. WESVO advisor Robert Cassidy, retired officer teaching fellow, government, and Mike Whaley, vice president for student affairs helped secure funding for the Wesleyan group to attend the screening in NYC.

Rodríguez hopes to explore the possibility of hosting AITAF on Wesleyan’s campus in the future.

Next summer, Rodríguez will assist AITAF in launching its first student veteran paid-internship program.