Tag Archive for student achievements

Conducive Classrooms, Numerical Representation, Lignin Degration are Topics of McNair Fellow Presentations

Wesleyan's 2011-12 McNair Fellows receive guidance, research opportunities and academic and financial support.

Eleven Wesleyan seniors will speak on their undergraduate research projects during the Spring 2012 McNair Fellow Presentation Series March 29 through April 26. The presentations describe the research that students conducted with Wesleyan faculty mentors.

Many of the projects also are the subject of student theses or final papers presented for the Wesleyan B.A. requirements.

The Wesleyan University Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement McNair Program was established in 2007. It assists students from underrepresented groups with preparing for, entering, and progressing successfully through postgraduate education. They are often first generation college students from low-income families, OR African-American, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, other Pacific Islander, or Native American.

The program provides guidance, research opportunities, and academic and financial support to students planning to pursue Ph.Ds. Junior and Senior Fellows do research with faculty mentors and participate in program activities with the McNair cohort. More than 59 students have participated in the program, 40 of whom were first generation college attendees.

The program provides guidance, research opportunities, and academic and financial support to students planning to pursue Ph.Ds.

“We’re very proud of our graduating fellows,” says Santos Cayetano, administrative director of the McNair Program. “Many of our fellows go on to graduate school and post baccalaureate programs. We welcome the entire Wesleyan community to come hear about their research.”

All talks are at noon in Exley Science Center 109. The schedule is as follows:

March 29
Julia Marroquin-Ceron ’12 will present “Spanish legal translation and interpretation: Wesleyan students and involvement in the greater Middletown community.”

Student-Athlete Jeff Legunn ’13 Says Men’s Tennis is Hungry for Success

Jeff Legunn '13 maintains a leadership role on the men's tennis team.

Q&As with outstanding students is an occasional feature of The Wesleyan Connection. This issue we speak with tennis star Jeff Legunn from the Class of 2013.

Q: You have been playing No. 1 singles for Wesleyan since your arrival and you currently have a career record of 33-11.  How do you see your role on the team as a top player and team captain?

A: I believe myself, and the other upperclassmen, all maintain leadership roles.  As the top player, I think I have the ability to set the bar high and hold the other players accountable. We have a talented team this year, but we will need everyone to perform at their best for us to have a successful season in the NESCAC.

Q: There are 11 players on the team this year and seven of them are freshmen. How has such a young team gotten off to a 12-1 start, the best in program history?

A: Our team is young, but hungry for success. The freshmen on our team got the taste of winning college matches early on in the fall, and they all have high goals for the upcoming portion of the season. Having a young team will never be an excuse for us not meeting our goals this spring.

Khan ’12 is a “Young Woman to Look Out For”

In honor of International Women’s Day, DoSomething.org named Tasmiha Khan ’12 one of the “11 Young Women to Look Out For.”

Through the organization Brighter Dawns, Khan raises awareness about the water-related illnesses in Bangladesh and builds wells, latrines and shower rooms in an effort to combat sanitary ignorance and the inability to access safe sanitation.

With a goal of 5 million active members by 2015, DoSomething.org is one of the largest organizations in the U.S. for teens and social change.

The story is online here.

Aaron ’14, Malamut ’12 Receive NASA Research Grants

Two undergraduates each received a $5,000 grant from the NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium on Jan. 1.

Lavontria Aaron ’14 to will study minerals on Mars with Martha Gilmore, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences; and Craig Malamut ’12 will research local interstellar mediums with Seth Redfield, assistant professor of astronomy.

Student Volunteers Provide Education in India

MINDS volunteers work with children in India.

Over winter break, eight volunteers from Wesleyan, including founder Raghu Appasani ’12, traveled to India with the MINDS Foundation to complete the first phase of their three-phase program in India. The organization, founded by Appasani in 2010, is committed to eliminating the stigma of mental illness in developing nations. Through a grassroots approach, they provide educational, financial, medical, and moral support for patients suffering from mental illness in developing countries.

Volunteers Shyam Desai ’15, Sam Douglas ’12 (a psychology major and director of research & development), Emma Kingsberg ’12, Rehan Mehta ’14, Lauren Seo ’14 (president of the Wesleyan chapter of the foundation), Rishi Shah ’12 (director of business development), and Zach Valenti ’12 joined Appasani ’12 for their nearly month-long study and service.

Phase I of the process, explains Appasani, is educational: the goal is to give people accurate information about mental illness and begin to take away some of the stigma and blame associated with it, and to begin conversations. Volunteers spent their time leading workshops and discussions, showing a documentary, and working with young children on dramatics arts projects to illustrate the lessons.

Rachel Fifer ’12: Acrobatic Yoga Instructor Says Wesleyan is “Hugely Instrumental”

Rachel Fifer '12 teaches the class DANC420.01 “Acrobatic Partner Yoga and Thai Massage” at Wesleyan.

Q: Rachel, please explain what acrobatic yoga is, and how you got involved.

A: AcroYoga, as it’s called, is acrobatic partner yoga that mostly involves a “base” who uses their legs to hold a “flyer” in the air as they both collaborate to move through therapeutic poses as well as acrobatic maneuvers. I got involved when Ryan Rogers and Miles Bukiet ’11 led an AcroYoga student forum last year.

Q: What is the partner class you teach and how many students are in the class?

A: Lizzie Simon ’12 and I teach a student forum class called Acrobatic Partner Yoga and Thai Massage for a full credit. Seventeen students are enrolled for credit, but about 30 people take the class in total, because it’s so much fun it’s worth it even without credit!

Rachel Fifer '12 (denim shorts) and Morgan Hill '14 (black pants) practice acrobatic yoga behind the Usdan University Center Feb. 23.

Q: What are the benefits of acrobatic partner yoga?

A: Phew…I could go on for ages. It improves flexibility, strength, trust in yourself, trust in a partner, body awareness, comfort with your own body and others’, breath awareness in yourself and others, balance, connection with communities around you…It’s a practice that makes you feel confident, challenged, and it still super goofy and relaxed.

Q: Are you going to become licensed?

A: At the moment, I can’t afford to become licensed. Someday, maybe.

Q: What are your academic interests?

A: I’m majoring in Latin American studies and environmental studies. I love understanding how people and societies think. So history, sociology, psychology, politics…pretty much anything related to how things work.

Q: And other hobbies?

A: Folk dance! And singing and playing instruments. But mostly dancing. Blues, contra, salsa, waltz, swing, international.

Q: Why did you choose Wesleyan?

A: Honestly? Because after my dad made me check it out because it was in a book of “colleges that change the world,” they gave me the biggest scholarship. Just turned out that Wesleyan was a nearly perfect fit for me. I got lucky! I’m so very glad I picked Wesleyan. I feel like the ways that Wesleyan has challenged me (comfort with sexuality, being aware of the immense weight words carry, questioning who writes history) and at the same time provided me with community and opportunity (dancing, a small enough school that I always see familiar faces, the chance to teach my own class) has been hugely instrumental in my growth as a person.

Q: What are your plans after graduating?

A: I’m saving up money to live in Spain with a friend of mine for the summer and then moving to Asheville, N.C. to teach AcroYoga and work with an environmentally-minded community organizing group and dance all the time because it’s the city with the best dance scene in the country!

Sanislow, Marcus ’13, Reagan ’13 Publish Paper on Borderline Psychopathology

Charles Sanislow, assistant professor of psychology, and two members of his lab, Katie Marcus ’13 and Liz Reagan ’13 published an article on challenging old assumptions about about the outcome of borderline psychopathology in the February 2012 issue of Current Psychiatry Reports. The paper details current findings from major longitudinal psychiatry studies including the Collaborative Longitudinal Personality Study, which Sanislow has been as an investigator on for the past 16 years, and suggests new directions for clinical research. The article is online here.

Also published in February is a work that Sanislow co-authored from the Collaborative Personality Study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The study results identified interpersonal styles that place people at risk for depression and chronic functional impairments. Findings have implications for psychotherapy treatments for chronic depression. The article, titled “Interpersonal Pathoplasticity in the Course of Major Depression,” appears in issue 80, pages 78-86. The study is online here.

Neufeld ’12, Bartle ’12 Co-Produce Middletown Youth Radio Project

Harry Bartle '12 and Maddie Neufeld '12 are co-producers for the Middletown Youth Radio Project.

A show on bullying in a Middletown neighborhood ,produced by Maddie Neufeld ’12 and Harry Bartle ’12, was recently featured on WNPR and GPRX radio.

Neufeld and Bartle are co-producers of the Middletown Youth Radio Project.

After submitting a proposal to Generation Public Radio Exchange (GPRX), Middletown Youth Radio Project was selected to produce a piece on bullying in Traverse Square, a federally subsidized complex in Middletown.

“We wanted to understand what bullying might look like in a community. DJ DZhane and DJ Elizabethyano took on the project and went around Traverse Square with a microphone and recorder in hand, interviewing family, friends and neighbors about bullying,” Neufeld explains.

The story is online here. It was aired as a part of a one-hour special on bullying put together by WNPR and GPRX.

Khan ’12 to Present Research Poster at Psychological Convention

Tasmiha Khan ’12 will present the poster “Responses to Group Devaluation among American-Muslims” at the 2012 Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention, May 24 – 27 in Chicago, Ill. In this poster, Khan will present results with her ongoing research with Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera, assistant professor of psychology, on how American Muslims feel about negative societal images of their group. Khan has been working in Rodriguez Mosquera’s Culture and Emotion Lab since 2009 where she is also involved in another research project on the meaning of honor among South Asian women.

Wilkerson ’12, Williams ’12 Receive Teaching Education Fellowships

Nearly half of the nation’s students – 44 percent – are students of color, but only one of every six teachers is a teacher of color. To help recruit, support and retain individuals of color as K-12 public school teachers, the Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color offers scholarships to to ensure that greater numbers of highly qualified teachers of color enter public school classrooms around the country.

Randyl Wilkerson '12

This year, the Fund awarded fellowships to two Wesleyan seniors: Randyl Wilkerson ’12 and Nastassia Williams ’12.

Wilkerson, an English major, and Williams, an African American Studies major, were chosen through a competitive selection process. They will each receive a $30,000 stipend to complete a master’s degree in education, preparation to teach in a high-need public school, support throughout a three-year teaching commitment, and guidance toward teaching certification.

Wilkerson, of Chicago, Ill., is a member of Wesleyan’s AIDS Sexual Health Awareness Group and is the university’s campus campaign coordinator for Teach for America. She also volunteers as a sexual education teacher for Connecticut high school students. Wilkerson is a poet with a published collection, Astrobiology. She is a member of the Wesleyan Poetry Slam Team and is a winner of the Best Persona Piece Award, National Poetry Slam. She’s minoring in American Studies.

Wilkerson will use her fellowship to attend graduate school through the Boston Teacher Residency, and receive a M.A. in education.

“After I get my master’s, I want to teach in Boston Public Schools for a few years to understand how best to serve inner city youth today,” she says. “But ultimately, I want to start an enrichment program teaching youth to think and write critically, while empowering them through acts of creativity. I want to help public school students develop their own voices and gain a sense of agency.”

Nastassia Williams '12

Williams, of the Bronx, N.Y., works as a tutor for Middletown’s Traverse Square, an organization for elementary students. She also is a SAT tutor with the Let’s Get Ready program and is currently learning how to deejay. She’s minoring in English.

Williams has already applied to the Bard College Master of Arts Teaching Program, the Boston Teacher Residency and the Newark-Montclair Urban Teaching Residency.

“I’d like to earn a master’s degree in teaching and probably teach English at the middle school or high school level,” she says. “And with the fellowship, I will complete the program and continue to work in a public school in an urban or rural high-needs area.”

Current trends indicate that by the year 2020, the percentage of teachers of color will fall to an all-time low of five percent of the total teacher force, while the percentage of students of color in the K-12 system will likely near 50 percent. This Fellowship offers an opportunity to ensure that greater numbers of highly qualified teachers of color enter public school classrooms around the country.


Khan ’12 Awarded Movement One to One Fellowship

In Bangladesh, more than 100,000 children die every year of intestinal diseases. About 31 million people are without access to safe drinking water and 99.9 million people lack proper sanitation. About 80 percent of the wells in more than 8,000 villages are contaminated.

Tasmiha Khan ’12, founder of the Wesleyan chapter of Brighter Dawns, has spent the past four years determined to help sanitary and living conditions in a slum in Khalishpur, Khulna. Through fund-raising, partnering with NGOs and grant applications, the Wesleyan chapter has teamed up with other Brighter Dawns chapters in the country to distribute more than 1,000 sanitary kits, teach lessons on proper hygiene and install 15 tube wells and 20 latrines in the slum.

Brighter Dawns also trained local women and provided them with stipends to help maintain the infrastructure and conduct seminars in conjunction with health officials and physicians.

As a newly-awarded 2012 Movement One to One Fellow (Movement 121), Khan will have the opportunity to participate in a six-month online, collaborative experience to enhance Brighter Dawns’ success from Feb. 1 to Aug. 1. Movement 121 enables fellows to discover their true strengths,