In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that United States residents not only practice social distancing, but wear masks in public. In this piece, we highlight Wesleyan faculty, staff, students, and alumni donning their masks and explain a bit about them.
Roseann Sillasen MALS ’07, associate director/project manager for Physical Plant-Facilities, wears a standard-issue surgical mask that was donated by families of Wesleyan students. The mask “has special meaning because it demonstrates caring and concern for our safety from around the world,” she said. Sillasen, who continues to work on campus, wears the mask daily in the office. “It not only protects me from others but also protects others from me. Although we practice social distancing, you do not realize how exposed you are unless you truly trace every contact every day,” she said. “This virus is insidious. It knows no boundaries.”
Frantz Williams, Jr. ’99, vice president for advancement, wears a mask crafted by his wife, Anne Johnson ’01, from felt samples they had in their house. Johnson also made one for herself. “I wear this to the grocery and pet store when I need to get supplies,” Williams said.
Heidi Mastrogiovanni ’79 wears a mask handcrafted by friends in support of Musa Masala, a nonprofit organization her friends created to, among other charitable activities, raise funds for the construction of the Wongchhu Sherpa Memorial Hospital in Nepal to help the under-served population there. Mastrogiovanni lives in Los Angeles and wears the mask whenever she goes out, “which, in general, is to go on hikes and to occasionally go to the store—all of which my husband and I do with very careful attention to the rules of social distancing. I’m grateful to live in a city with a mayor and a state with a governor who listen to science and work hard to keep us all safe.”
Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 says he doesn’t go out much, but when he does he re-purposes a sleeping mask. “It gets the job done,” he says, “and I can always take a nap somewhere.”
Nick Sng ’23 returned to his home in Singapore once Wesleyan went to online teaching. He wears a patent-pending, locally-designed mask that was issued to all Singaporean citizens by their government. “I’m really grateful that my country has adequate resources to care for its people during this difficult period,” he said. “I wear the mask whenever I go out because it has become mandatory to do so.”
Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, photographed herself while walking her dog, Bridie, on Pine Street. “The mask was given to me by one of my Chinese students. His mother sent him a bunch and he shared a few with me,” she said.
Tina Frazer, administrative assistant for continuing studies, is pictured outside Exley Science Center on April 28 prepping for her Graduate Liberal Studies photography class. Frazer purchased masks for herself and her sons from a local woman whom she met through a mutual friend. “My mask is has a nose guard and filter and is thick and washable. She had tons of material from years ago and is now able to use it for a good cause. She also had lots of elastic because she makes handmade bows and other crafts,” Frazer said. Frazer wears her mask to grocery stores and when she takes photos for her class.
Sam O’Neill, email and digital marketing specialist in University communications, sports her handmade mask on April 29, prior to entering the Middletown Post Office. O’Neill is a hobbyist seamstress and crafter, so she’s been able to make masks for family and friends with materials she has on hand, “which are mostly very classy Nintendo and Disney fabrics,” she said. “I’ve been wearing them when I need to go out, such as to the post office or grocery shopping. My partner is an essential worker, so it’s nice for him to have a few available so that he doesn’t have to sanitize and re-use the same one every day.”
Francis Starr, professor of physics, wears a Halloween mask he ordered for his kids last fall. “Who knew how useful they would be this spring! We’ve been wearing them whenever we have to go out, and trying to spread good cheer,” he said.
Tracey Stanley, administrative assistant for the Registrar’s Office made a purple jeweled mask for herself. “I hate having things on my face. I’m hoping that having my favorite color on my face will help me not be so uncomfortable,” she said.
At left, Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19 dons a cloth mask made by the mother of her childhood best friend “who [she’s] still super close with!” Goldfarb Terry wears the masks daily at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa., where she works as a community engagement representative. At right, Heather Brooke, executive assistant to the president, is shocked that she still hasn’t worn her mask (sewn by her crafty sister) outside of the house, but then again, she hasn’t gone anywhere yet where she would need a mask. “It has, however, come in handy for the self-portraits I’ve been taking for my photography class,” she said.
Author, artist, speaker, illustrator, and mental wellness coach Ellen Forney ’89 found this t-shirt at Goodwill last fall, and planned to sew a scrunchy cap out of it. “I hadn’t cut it up yet, and a masked superhero seemed perfect for me as a masked cartoonist,” she said. “I also dearly hope that my hobby of hunting through the bins at Goodwill won’t be a thing of the past!”