Tag Archive for student achievements

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.

Sociology Major Okun ’13: “Interdisciplinary Connections Are Part of My Everyday Thinking”

Evan Okun '13 is a Phi Beta Kappa honor society member, a slam poet, an improv rapper and a Senior Interviewer for the Office of Admission. He also teaches classes at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Evan Okun ’13 is a Phi Beta Kappa honor society member, a slam poet, an improv rapper and a Senior Interviewer for the Office of Admission. He also teaches classes at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Q&As with outstanding students are an occasional feature of The Wesleyan Connection. This issue we speak with Evan Okun from the Class of 2013. 

Q: Evan, you’ll be graduating this spring. How would you sum up your Wesleyan experience so far?

A: Wesleyan University encourages interdisciplinary inquiry while simultaneously supporting student efforts to put theory into practice. Earlier this semester the Sociology Department (along with other student and administrative groups) sponsored a panel discussion on the education system featuring the brilliant rap duo, Dead Prez. This served as the action component of my Senior Essay, which addressed exclusion in academia and incorporated readings from classes I took in Buddhism, psychology, chemistry, poetry, music and sociology. After four years studying with innovative professors, alongside an engaged student body, interdisciplinary connections have become a part of my everyday thinking. Concepts from organic chemistry facilitate a metaphorical understanding of sociological phenomena, and classes in English help translate these ideas into spoken word poetry. There are classes cross-listed in dance and biology. There are students double majoring in neuroscience and art. Single theses for mathematics and dance. This school is incredible.

Q: What are you majoring in and why?

A:  I am majoring in sociology and last fall completed a Senior Essay advised by Professor Alex Dupuy. This spring I will expand the essay into a longer work, advised by Professor Jonathan Cutler. I have always been fascinated by how the mind works. Sociology links micro level examination of the human psyche to macro level discussion of social phenomena. It allows students to investigate the environment from which they precipitate, all the while supporting efforts to dismantle oppressive systems.

Q: What have been your most memorable classes at Wesleyan?

A: I have taken many life-changing classes at Wesleyan, but the two most influential ones were Introduction to Buddhism and Paternalism and Social Power. These classes were particularly powerful because they implicated my own thoughts and subsequent actions in the perpetuation of suffering. The professors held me accountable for the negativity I brought to the world, while catalyzing class discussions about how to uproot the human tendency to be egocentric.

Q: Through Wesleyan, you’ve taught a class at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown. Why did you get involved?

A:  During my sophomore year, I toured the Connecticut Juvenile Training School and stumbled upon a CD made by residents in the Music Therapy Department. It featured original songs riddled with powerful stories, innovative literary devices, and dope rhymes.

Burgunder ’15 Competes in U.S. Ski Mountaineering World Championships

Mateusz Burgunder ’15

As part of the United States team, Mateusz Burgunder ’15 competed in both the sprint and men’s individual races in the 2013 Ski Mountaineering World Championships.

Mateusz Burgunder ’15 returned recently from competing in the 2013 Ski Mountaineering World Championships, where the U.S. National Ski Mountaineering Team finished ninth out of 23 competing teams.

This year was Burgunder’s third time competing for the U.S., participating in both the sprint race and the men’s individual race. He placed 51st and 65th, respectively. The U.S. won its first medal in the world championships, with Dartmouth College alumna Nina Silitch taking a silver medal in the sprint race.

The Ski Mountaineering World Championships, hosted by the International Ski Mountaineering Federation, were held in Pelvoux, France from Feb. 9–16.

 

Grad Student Windemuth Honored for Astronomy Research

Diana Windemuth, a graduate student in the Astronomy Department, received Honorable Mention as a Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Award Recipient at the 221st meeting of the American Astronomical Society held Jan. 6-10 in Long Beach, Calif.

The award is given to recognize exemplary research by graduate students who present a poster at the meeting. Diana’s poster was titled “Dramatic Evolution of the Disk-Shaped Secondary in the Orion Trapezium Star θ1 Ori B1 (BM Ori): MOST Satellite Observations.”

Windemuth’s advisor is William Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy. Her work included results from two former Astronomy graduate students, Evan Tingle and Rachel Fueschl. Additional co-authors on the poster were Roy Kilgard, research assistant professor of astronomy, and Matthew Templeton and Arne Henden of the American Association of Variable Star Observers.

Windemuth’s results are based on data obtained with a Canadian satellite known as MOST and a NASA satellite known as Chandra. The work was supported by a grant to Wesleyan from NASA’s Origins of Solar Systems program. Her work will soon be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Biology Major Dominguez ’15 Planning Dominican Student Conference

Konnie Dominguez '15 is planning the the 7th National Dominican Student Conference, which will be hosted at Wesleyan. She also blogs for the Office of Admission and works as a book shelver in Olin Library.

Konnie Dominguez ’15 is planning the the 7th National Dominican Student Conference, which will be hosted at Wesleyan. She also blogs for the Office of Admission and works as a book shelver in Olin Library.

Q&As with outstanding students is an occasional feature of The Wesleyan Connection. This issue we speak with Konnie Dominguez from the Class of 2015.

Q: Konnie, what are you planning on majoring in and why?

A: I’m planning on majoring in biology. With a bachelors in biology, I can continue to pursue a career in biological anthropology, specifically in paleoanthropology, the study of human fossils. I’ve had at least one class in science ever since the sixth grade and this year, I had three – biology, chemistry and neuroscience!

Q: Are you involved in any extracurricular activities?

A: Most of my free time, when not spent in classes, labs, or my job, goes to the Dominican Students Association or WesQuisqueya. We are a student group for Wesleyan students of Dominican descent or those who just enjoy Dominican culture.

Q: What is your role in planning the upcoming National Dominican Student Conference?

A: The 7th annual conference will be hosted by Wesleyan on March 29 and 30. For this conference, I am a student coordinator. I’m on the publicity team and, along with another group member, I’m in charge of reaching out to past participants of the conference and inviting them to come again. Our team currently expects around 500 students! It is a lot of work.

3 Student-Athletes Participate in Soccer Night in Newtown

From left, Jen Brewer '13, Madeline Keane '16 and Kaylin Berger '13 attended the Newtown Youth Academy Sports and Fitness Center for Soccer Night.

From left, Jen Brewer ’13, Madeline Keane ’16 and Kaylin Berger ’13 attended the Newtown Youth Academy Sports and Fitness Center for Soccer Night.

Three Wesleyan women’s soccer players, two of whom are graduates of Newtown (Conn.) High School, took part in  Soccer Night in Newtown Jan. 7 as Newtown continued to heal from the tragic incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School Dec. 14.

Team quad-captain Jen Brewer ’13 of Sandy Hook, Conn. and Madeline Keane ’16 of Newtown, Conn. were joined by Kaylin Berger ’13 of Farmington, Conn., at the Newtown Youth Academy Sports and Fitness Center for the festivities.

Nearly 50 major professional soccer players, including Major League Soccer (MLS) stars Landon Donovan and Kenny Cooper, women’s national team standouts Kristine Lilly, Christie Rampone and Mia Hamm, and former World Cup talent Alexi Lalas all made appearances with well over 1,000 Newtown youth benefiting from the opportunity. Soccer games, autographs galore and other soccer-oriented activity took place during the evening.

The night was the brainchild of Connecticut native Chris Canetti, president of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo.He got five of his players to sign on and the number grew to about 50 in the professional soccer community, including MLS player Marcus Tracy of the San Jose Earthquakes, a native of Newtown. Newtown’s soccer community rallied around its sport to aid the town.

“Growing up in Newtown, most kids start playing soccer in kindergarten,” said Brewer, who attended Sandy Hook Elementary as a kindergartener and first-grader. “We all play in the Park and Rec leagues. Then travel teams in U-10 and above keep us active. Being a ball boy or ball girl at the high school game was a big deal, too. Our girls team (at Newtown High School) won the state title this year.” Wesleyan assistant coach Brian Matzke, who is part of the Connecticut Football Club that helped sponsor the event, recruited the three Wesleyan women’s soccer players to help out.

Brewer, Berger and Keane were assigned to help with the autograph lines. “We got to talk with a few of the players afterwards,” Brewer added. “All the parents and kids were so appreciative. They were happy to just get away from eveything that had been going on and have fun for a while.”

Read more about the event in this Hartford Courant article and SI.com article.

#THISISWHY

Students, COE Fellow Participate in Climate Change Convention in Qatar

Chloe Holden '15, Samantha Santaniello '13, Sophie Duncan '13 and Michael Dorsey, fellow of the College of the Environment, visiting professor of environmental studies, participated in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Doha, Qatar.

Chloe Holden ’15, Samantha Santaniello ’13, Sophie Duncan ’13 and Michael Dorsey, fellow of the College of the Environment, visiting professor of environmental studies, participated in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Doha, Qatar.

Three Wesleyan students joined hundreds of climate change activists from around the world to strategize with fellow youth, discuss climate change policy, engage with delegates and participate in a climate change march during the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Doha, Qatar.

The convention began Nov. 26. Sophie Duncan ’13, Samantha Santaniello ’13 and Chloe Holden ’15, accompanied by Michael Dorsey, fellow of the College of the Environment, visiting professor of environmental studies, obtained entry badges and jumped right into a panel discussion on equitable climate policies with representatives from the Third World Network.

“We were initially struck by the variety of people at the conference center, from young people much like us to VIP diplomats from different countries and generations, all of whom seem anxious to get started and work hard for the interests they represent,” Holden said.

Although youth participants were not able to participate directly in negotiations, the Wesleyan students quickly teamed up with about 150 youth delegates from around the world. Many youth represented civil society organizations including Climate Justice Now, Earth in Brackets, the Arab Youth Society, the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, Climate Action Network, the Taiwan Youth Climate Coalition and the global youth constituency YOUNGO.

“After attending a YOUNGO meeting and conversations with a few students, I realized that this conference is an opportunity for we, the youth, to exchange ideas and strategies with activists, delegates,

15 Students with 93 Percent GPAs Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Fifteen seniors joined Phi Beta Kappa honor society on Dec. 5. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Fifteen seniors joined Phi Beta Kappa honor society on Dec. 5. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Fifteen students from the Class of 2013 were elected to early-decision membership in Phi Beta Kappa during an initiation ceremony Dec. 5. Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest surviving Greek letter society in America, dating back to 1776.

Sociology major Evan Okun accepts his Phi Beta Kappa papers from Class Dean Louise Brown, PBK chapter secretary and marshall. Okun teaches a class at the juvenile detention in Middletown, which examines literary technique and societal inequality through rap songs.

Sociology major Evan Okun ’13 accepts his Phi Beta Kappa membership papers from Dean Louise Brown, PBK chapter secretary and marshall. Okun teaches a class at the juvenile detention in Middletown, which examines literary technique and societal inequality through rap songs.

The organization’s Greek initials signify the motto, “Love of learning is the guide of life.”To be elected, a student must first have been nominated by his or her major department. He or she also must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations, and have achieved a grade-point average of 93 percent. Members of the Fall 2012 class all have GPAs of 94.48 percent or above.

Sally Bachner, president of the Connecticut Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and associate professor of English, said for students elected in the fall, it is an especially exacting selection process and the election is an extremely prestigious one, because admittance is based on a student’s performance at Wesleyan only through their junior year.

“The students gathered here today represent a broad range of learning and commitment to excellence in a major, in some cases two or more majors, or a major that combines several disciplines,” she said, during the initiation ceremony. “These new members’ accomplishments during their years at Wesleyan should be a source of pride to themselves and to their families.”

Bachner was joined by the chapter’s vice president Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology; chapter treasurer Steven Horst, chair and professor of philosophy; chapter secretary and marshall Louise Brown, dean for academic advancement/dean for the Class of 2013; and chapter historian Lorna Scott, assistant to the vice president for student affairs.

The elected students and their majors are:

Benjamin Abravanel, English and psychology; Evan Baum, chemistry; Julianne Edwards, biology, molecular biology and biochemistry, Science In Society; Scott Greene, chemistry;

Softball Team “Adopts” Teen with Illness, Donates to Red Cross

The Wesleyan softball team and Stephanie Lubogo.

The Wesleyan softball team and Stephanie Lubogo.

This fall, the Wesleyan softball team has expanded its efforts beyond the sports field in order to help others. In November, the team “adopted” a 13-year-old Cromwell, Conn. girl who struggles with multiple health problems, and donated to the Red Cross’ Hurricane Sandy relief effort.

Joining the Wesleyan softball team through the Team IMPACT program is 13-year-old Stephanie Lubogo (shown seated in middle of photo with younger sister Emily on the right).

Team IMPACT matches local youngsters suffering from a variety of maladies with college athletic teams to boost their confidence and sense of belonging. Stephanie was born with an illness called Prader Willi syndrome, a complex chromosomal disorder that affects the hypothalamus in a person’s brain leading to insatiable hunger. In addition to her Prader Willi, Stephanie also was diagnosed with juvenile scoliosis at the age of two, and by age three had almost a 90 degree curve in her spine. In order to combat the effects of her scoliosis, at age 10 Stephanie had to have a spinal fusion, in which doctors fused the bones in her spine from her neck down to her tailbone. As a result of that surgery, Stephanie missed close to two months of school. She still must have one or two surgeries each year.

Stephanie understands what it means to persevere and will use the support of her softball teammates to continue overcoming challenges in her life. She participates in Girl Scouts and also likes to read, sing, and collect books, stickers and movies. She loves the TV shows Full House, Everybody Loves Raymond and Extreme Makeover – Home Edition, and she is a fan of singers Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

“We are excited to have Stephanie be a part of our team,” said Wesleyan Softball Head Coach Jen Lane. “She is a sweet and caring girl with whom our players felt an instant connection. I think both the team and Stephanie will benefit from being in each other’s lives.”

The softball team also helped the Red Cross’ Hurricane Sandy relief effort by donating the entire proceeds of its 50/50 raffle during the Wesleyan vs. Trinity football game on Nov. 10. The Cardinals sold $320 worth of tickets, so their $160 was earmarked for the Red Cross. The winner of the raffle also donated funds to the Red Cross, upping to level of the support to $320.

“After Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, we decided to donate the proceeds of the 50/50 raffle from the Wesleyan/Trinity football game to the Red Cross for the hurricane relief efforts,” Coach Lane explained. “Seeing how much devastation there was from the storm, we wanted to do something to help. We actually did the same thing during the fall of 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. I think everyone on the team knows someone affected by the storm, and while the $320 we donated is not that much, we hope it can offer some help to those in need.”

South Korea’s Choi ’13 is a Freeman Scholar, Humanities Journal Editor

Art history major Claire Choi '13 co-founded PYXIS, a new online and print project that aims to share and celebrate student academic writing in the humanities at Wesleyan. She also plays Korean drums and learned French and German at Wesleyan.

Art history major Claire Choi ’13 co-founded PYXIS, a new online and print project that aims to share and celebrate student academic writing in the humanities at Wesleyan. She also plays Korean drums and learned French and German at Wesleyan.

Q&As with outstanding students is an occasional feature of The Wesleyan Connection. This issue we speak with Claire Seo In Choi from the Class of 2013.

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

A: I’m majoring in art history at Wesleyan. I attended art high school before I came to Wes, and have been always interested in how socio-economic and cultural circumstances have shaped artworks, so I guess it was quite a natural choice for me. Besides my major credits, I explored many different disciplines; I learned French and German, and took various courses from the College of Letters, Philosophy and Studio Art departments.

Q: Coming to Wesleyan from South Korea, what were the biggest changes you encountered?

A: The education system was one of the biggest changes I encountered. My high school curriculum was very art-centric and did not have room for students to design their own curriculums. On the other hand, Wesleyan encourages students to take the full advantage of liberal arts education and explore different courses outside one’s major. Language barrier and cultural differences were also challenging changes, but I think the people I’ve met at Wesleyan have helped me a lot to transit into a new environment.

Q: You are involved with PYXIS, a new student-run online humanities journal. What is your position in the project?

A: Earlier this year, my friends and I co-founded PYXIS. PYXIS is a new online and print project that aims to share and celebrate student academic writing in the humanities at Wesleyan. We publish peer-edited papers and thought-provoking articles, both online and in print. By doing this, we hope to establish a dialogue across the humanities

Purdy ’13, Kurash ’13 Named NESCAC Players of the Year

Adam Purdy ’13

Adam Purdy ’13

Between 2000 and 2011, Wesleyan garnered just four New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Players of the Year honors. The first came in the spring of 2001 when John Landay ’01 led Wesleyan to a 17-3 record in men’s lacrosse and a spot in the ECAC Championship game by leading the nation in scoring with 121 points on 73 goals and 48 assists. The following fall, Alexis Keeler ’02 paced women’s volleyball to a best-ever 30-6 mark and a spot in the NCAA Division III tournament with 548 kills and a .379 hitting percentage. She was all-New England and a third-team CoSIDA academic All-American. Volleyball catapulted the third Cardinal to Player of the Year recognition as Lisa Drennan ’09 became a two-time winner, grabbing the laurels in both 2006 and 2008. She earned all-New England honors both seasons and as a senior, was a second-team AVCA All-American and second-team CoSIDA academic All-American. Wesleyan was a collective 40-16 those two campaigns.

In the fall of 2012, Wesleyan accomplished a new feat – a pair of NESCAC Players of the Year in the same season. And not only the same season, but the same sport. Adam Purdy ’13, for the men, and Laura Kurash ’13, for the women, both gained supreme conference recognition from the soccer coaches of the NESCAC. It was a perfect evolution for both players as each was a NESCAC Rookie of the Year in 2009. Kurash, a high-scoring forward, also was a second-team all-NESCAC pick that year while Purdy, a goaltender, made the first team along with all-New England and third-team All-America honors. The next three seasons, Kurash found her way to the all-NESCAC first team and also gained all-New England and CoSIDA/Capital One District II academic All-America accolades in 2011. Purdy was a NESCAC first-teamer in 2011 to complement his all-New England status.

Laura Kurash ’13

Laura Kurash ’13

All the honors are not yet in for 2012. So far, Kurash has added CoSIDA/Capital One District II academic All-America recognition for a second year. Both are likely candidates for all-New England acclaim once again. Kurash was among the top three in the NESCAC for scoring points with 22 and goals with nine while ranking in the top 10 for assists with four. She ended her four years with 37 goals and 14 assists for 88 points, ranking her second all-time at Wesleyan in both goals and points. Of her 37 goals, 15 were game-winners. Purdy started every game in goal for Wesleyan since he arrived on campus, 69 in total, and posted a lofty 40-17-12 overall record. He recorded a school-record 31 shutouts over his four seasons and had a career goals-against average of 0.71 and a save percentage of .842. In 2012, he went 9-4-4 with a 0.62 goals-against average and a .836 save percentage with seven shutouts.

In 2012, Kurash helped her team to a spot in the NESCAC semifinals for only the second time in school history, the first coming last year. Wesleyan has qualified for the NESCAC women’s soccer tournament five times, four of those with Kurash on the roster. Purdy helped Wesleyan qualify for the NCAA Division III tournament for the fifth time in the last eight years and third time in the last four.

(Photos by Peter Stein ’84 and SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com)