Olivia Drake

Ostrow-D’Haeseleer Remembered for Teaching French at Wesleyan for 29 Years

Catherine Rachel Ostrow-D’Haeseleer, adjunct instructor of French, died on Saturday, Nov. 23, at the age of 65.

Ostrow-D’Haeseleer was born in Kananga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In the fall of 1983, she was asked to take over a French course for a professor who had to take an unexpected leave. With only a high school education, she immediately demonstrated the professionalism, commitment, and excellence as a teacher that characterized her entire career. After stints as both a part-time and full-time visiting faculty member, Ostrow-D’Haeseleer was hired as an adjunct lecturer in 1991 and taught at Wesleyan for the next 29 years.

Ostrow-D’Haeseleer served multiple years as head of the French section and was the face of the French program for most students. She co-authored Prête-moi ta plume: A Student’s Guide to Writing French Papers and served as an advisor and contributor to the third edition of French in Action.

“Catherine was an extraordinary teacher,” said her colleague Stéphanie Ponsavady, associate professor of French. “It was always a pleasure and a reward to inherit the students she had taught. Catherine was a dedicated colleague and a generous mentor to the junior faculty. She held herself, her students, and us to the highest standards of integrity academically and personally.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley, who worked with Ostrow-D’Haeseleer on the Student Judicial Board, wrote that he “will miss her love for our students, her steadfast dedication to them and to Wes, her joy in teaching, and her wonderful, wry humor.”

Andy Curran, professor of French and chair of Romance Languages and Literatures, remembered Catherine as “a superb and dedicated teacher; but she was also an incredibly generous spirit who gave of herself in a variety of situations, whether it was helping out a sick colleague or volunteering her time with local refugee families.”

A memorial event will be held on campus later in the year. Donations in her memory can be made to a GoFundMe campaign that has been established to foster the creative work of an artist/asylee from the DRC, which became dear to Ostrow-D’Haeseleer over the last years of her life.

Ostrow-D’Haeseleer is survived by her husband Kirk Bartholomew; her close friend and former husband Daniel Ostrow; her cousin Michel De Waha and his daughter Aurélie; her godchildren Gaeton Lillon and Mary Rider; and a large circle of loyal and caring friends.

53 Students Participate in Career Trek 2019

Fifty-three Wesleyan students explored the workforce firsthand during the Gordon Career Center’s Fall 2019 Career Treks.

Through five experiential learning trips, students directly connected with Wesleyan alumni and engaged with employers across a wide range of industries.

During the fall 2019 semester, the Gordon Career Center’s team of career advisors facilitated career treks to local, Connecticut-based employers: ESPN, Hartford Hospital’s Center for Education, Simulation and Innovation (CESI), LEGO Systems, Inc., and Pfizer. Additionally, the GCC hosted a day trip for students to Boston to attend the Reach(OUT) LGBTQA+ Career Conference at Northeastern University.

Alumni hosts included Rob King ’84, senior vice president of original content at ESPN; Jordan Schildhaus ’15, assistant account manager, and Ethan Sack ’97, head of US marketing at LEGO; and Giselle Reyes ’18, MA’19, senior associate scientist at Pfizer.

On Nov. 15, 14 Wesleyan students traveled to Enfield, Conn. to learn about a large global, family-owned company. Ethan Sack ’97, head of U.S. marketing, presented an informative overview and Jordan Schildhaus ’15, associate key account manager, moderated a panel discussion that included perspectives from other LEGO staff. Students toured the company, visited the company store to view LEGO product lines, and engaged with model shop staff.

On Nov. 15, 14 Wesleyan students traveled to Enfield, Conn., to learn about a large global, family-owned company: LEGO. Ethan Sack ’97 presented an informative overview and Jordan Schildhaus ’15 moderated a panel discussion that included perspectives from other LEGO staff. Students toured the company, visited the company store to view LEGO product lines, and engaged with model shop staff.

African Culture, Identity Showcased at Taste of Africa

As part of International Education Week, the African Student Association hosted Taste of Africa on Nov. 15 in Beckham Hall.

The event brought together students from different parts of the African continent and the diaspora to cook meals and showcase artifacts that are symbolic of their culture and identity. Participants shared, celebrated, honored, and educated the Wesleyan community about the diversity and richness of Africa, which transcends borders and continents.

Taste of Africa was co-sponsored by the Fries Center for Global Studies and Resource Center and was held in collaboration with student groups Ujamma, Caribbean Student Association, Haitian Student Collective, and Yaddi.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Nick Sng ’23)

africa

africa

McNair Fellows Present Research at Diversity in STEM Conference

SACNAS

Elizaveta “Liz” Atalig ’21 and Ekram Towsif ’21 won 2019 SACNAS conference presentation awards for their respective fields of research.

Two Wesleyan McNair Fellows recently participated in the largest multidisciplinary and multicultural STEM diversity event in the country.

From Oct. 31–Nov. 2, Elizaveta “Liz” Atalig ’21 and Ekram Towsif ’21 joined more than 4,000 peers at the 2019 SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) conference in Hawaii. For more than 45 years, SACNAS has served as an inclusive organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanics & Native Americans, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership within STEM.

Attendees of the three-day conference are immersed in cutting-edge scientific research and professional development sessions, motivational keynote speakers, a career expo, multicultural celebrations, and an inclusive and welcoming community of peers, mentors, and role models.

In addition, both Atalig and Towsif received Outstanding Research Presentation awards in their respective disciplines.

“This is the first time McNair fully funded Fellows to participate in the SACNAS conference, so we’re very proud of Ekram and Liz for maximizing their conference experience and conducting their award-winning poster presentations,” said Ronnie Hendrix, associate director of the Wesleyan McNair Program.

Ethnic Food, Art at 3rd Annual Languages Lead the Way

As part of International Education Week at Wesleyan, the Fries Center for Global Studies hosted its third annual “The Languages Lead the Way” on Nov. 20 in Fisk Hall. This food, arts, and crafts event focused on conversing in the target languages of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, German, Hebrew, Hindi-Urdu, and American Sign Language.

As part of International Education Week at Wesleyan, the Fries Center for Global Studies hosted its third annual Languages Lead the Way event on Nov. 20 in Fisk Hall. This food, arts, and crafts event focused on conversing in the target languages of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, German, Hebrew, Hindi-Urdu, and American Sign Language.

The event was facilitated by Foreign Language Teaching Assistants (FLTAs) from China, Japan, Tunisia, France, Italy, Spain, and Colombia, as well as Teaching Assistants and Wesleyan students from all these languages.

The event was facilitated by Foreign Language Teaching Assistants, teaching assistants, and students representing all 15 Wesleyan language departments. More than 200 guests attended the event. In order to receive food, participants were asked to learn a few words and phrases of the target languages. “It is meant to be an interactive, fun, and educational event,” said Kia Lor, assistant director of language and intercultural learning. “This is one of the several ways the Fries Center for Global Studies is cultivating and empowering a community of practice of language learners, teachers, and practitioners. We believe creating this interconnected community of practice will help individuals achieve intercultural skills, cultural self-awareness, empathy, and mutual understanding. When we can practice these skills among ourselves, we can then translate them into the world at large.”

Glick Wins Book Prize from National Women’s Studies Association

Megan Glick

Megan Glick

Megan Glick, associate professor of American studies, is the recipient of the Alison Piepmeier Book Prize for her book, Infrahumanisms: Science, Culture, and the Making of Modern Non/personhood (Duke University Press, 2018).

Awarded by the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), the Piepmeier Book Prize honors the author of a groundbreaking monograph in women, gender, and sexuality studies that makes significant contributions to feminist disability studies scholarship.

The award comes with a $1,000 prize and honors Alison Piepmeier, an active member and leader of NWSA whose scholarship examined the intersection of feminist and disability studies, with a particular emphasis on reproductive decisions and disabilities and parenting and disabilities.

At Wesleyan, Glick’s research and teaching focus on representations of difference along lines of race, gender, disability, and speciation, from both cultural and scientific perspectives. This fall, she is teaching Introduction to American Studies and a Junior Colloquium.

Wesleyan Places 1st in National Cybersecurity Competition

CSAW

Cher Qin ’21, Shuyuan Hung ’21, John Jiang ’21, and Kevin Koech ’21 took first place in a recent cybersecurity policy competition.

A team from Wesleyan took first place in the 2019 CSAW Policy Competition, the most comprehensive security competition in the world.

Hosted by the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and NYU School of Law Center for Cybersecurity on Nov. 6–8, the U.S.-Canada policy competition challenged contestants to think about the big picture of cybersecurity policy, economics, law, and governance. The purpose of the competition is to encourage students who are interested in the nexus of policy and emerging technology issues to think critically about major policy issues affecting society and to impact the cyber industry by presenting their ideas to leaders within the field.

Wesleyan’s team included College of Social Studies (CSS) and quantitative analysis center (QAC) major Cher Qin ’21; CSS and economics major Shuyuan Hung ’21; CSS and physics major John Jiang ’21; and computer science and economics major Kevin Koech ’21.

The team took home a $1,000 prize for the first-place win. Teams from the United States Naval Academy took the second and third prizes.

“We did not expect that [we], coming out of a liberal arts university, would win, but having diverse backgrounds helped,” Hung said.

Read more about the competition in this QAC student blog.

Alumni Speak with Students about Careers in Public Policy, Criminal Justice Reform

: James, Sarah, Nina, Aaron, Lexi

James Jeter, Sarah Cassel ’13, Nina Stender ’16, Aaron Stagoff-Belfort ’18, and Lexi Jones ’17 spoke with students about careers in public policy and criminal justice reform. (Photos by Simon Duan ’23)

More than 50 students attended an alumni conversation on “Careers in Public Policy and Criminal Justice Reform” Nov. 13 at the Gordon Career Center.

Each of the panelists: Sarah Cassel ’13, James Jeter (who earned his degree in 2016 while incarcerated through Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education), Lexi Jones ’17, Aaron Stagoff-Belfort ’18, and Nina Stender ’16 are working in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, analyzing and impacting policies dealing with inhumane jail conditions, policing, housing inequality, and issues around incarceration.

Stagoff-Belfort and Jim Kubat, associate director for job and internship development at the Gordon Career Center teamed up to assemble this dynamic panel as part of the career center’s ongoing mission to support students as they transition into the world of work.

“Three things are true,” Kubat explained. “1. There is a broad effort underway by a variety of governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations to reform our criminal justice system through shaping and changing public policy; 2. A Wesleyan education is excellent preparation for public policy work; and 3. Wesleyan alumni are demonstrating points 1 and 2 every day.”

For some students, starting a career in policy work can be daunting. The panelists provided their own perspectives.

Stagoff-Belfort explained, “At Wesleyan, I was surrounded by people passionate about politics, social change, and learning. It completely blindsided me and made me want to educate myself about the things I cared about as much as possible. Wesleyan taught me how to be more skeptical and to ask better questions, think critically and strategically, and write efficiently and effectively, all valuable skills in making and thinking about policy.”

Professor Kirn Remembered for Neurobiology Research, Gentle Demeanor

John Robert Kirn, professor of biology, died on Nov. 10 at the age of 67.

John Kirn

John Kirn

Kirn was born in Columbus, Ohio, and received his BA from the University of Denver, his MA from Bucknell University, and his PhD from Cornell University. Arriving at Wesleyan in 1994, he went on to teach courses on animal behavior, hormonal systems, and the neurobiology of learning and memory for the next 25 years. Kirn was a vital member of the biology department and a pillar of the neuroscience and behavior program (NS&B). He served as the director of graduate studies from 2005–2010, as the chair of the biology department from 2015–2017, and as the chair of the NS&B program for 12 consecutive years from 2001–2013, during a period of tremendous growth in the NS&B major.

Kirn’s research on song learning and song maintenance in birds explored questions of neuronal replacement and the ways the brain acquires and stores information. This is a critical area of neuroscience research, with important clinical applications that help us understand the potentially parallel processes that occur in humans during recovery from brain injury. John’s work was widely respected for opening new neurobiological paradigms and was often published in the most authoritative journals in the field, including The Journal of Neuroscience. He received numerous grants supporting his research from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, as well as a recent three-year grant from the Whitehall Foundation.

“John was an unusual combination: a highly accomplished scientist and lab head, and an exceptionally kind and gentle person,” said colleague Sonia Sultan, professor of biology.

Gloster Aaron, associate professor of biology, described John as having “a very gentle demeanor” and as “a kind and caring colleague and mentor.”

Ann Burke, chair and professor of biology, said Kirn was respected for his intellect and loved for his generous personality and wry sense of humor. “He trained over 17 graduate students in his lab, and influenced hundreds of undergraduates in his classes,” Burke said. “His colleagues and students are deeply saddened by his loss.”

Kirn is survived by his two children, Jake and Ella, and their mother Cynthia Seiwert.

A memorial event will be held on campus later this year. Read Kirn’s full obituary online here.

 

Swain ’90 Passes through Middletown, Honoring Children who Died in Federal Custody

Christopher Swain '90

Christopher Swain ’90 carries a torch through Middletown.

Human rights advocate Christopher Swain ’90 returned to Middletown last week, carrying an Olympic-style torch during what will be a nearly 5,000-mile journey to the spot where the US-Mexico border begins at the Gulf of Mexico, and then on through the border states to San Diego.

Swain, a parent of two, is participating in a March for the Kids, honoring the memory of the six children known to have died in federal custody.

He is hoping to bring awareness of the children who have been separated from their families and imprisoned and lost at the border; to advocate for all children to be found, freed, and reunited with family; and to share the voices and hopes of the people he meets along the way.

“I don’t know how we will find all of these kids. I don’t know how we will free all of these kids. And I don’t know how we will get them all back to their families. And I don’t know what it will take to make amends,” he said. “But I do know this—even if it takes a moon landing-level effort—we can find a way.”

Swain plans to walk, and occasionally run, 15 to 20 miles per day, five to six to days per week, stopping to refuel his torch every 45 minutes or so.

“The torch is a symbol of hope. I am keeping the flames of hope alive for these children and their families,” Swain said.

Swain invites anyone who feels strongly about the issue of the children to join him.

“If you have ideas about how to find and free these kids, I invite you to walk along with me and share those ideas. Let’s find a way, together.”

Swain graduated from Wesleyan with a double major in French literature and film studies. He stayed on to work for the Wesleyan Development Office until 1992. He also swam through Middletown in the Connecticut River as part of a Swim for Human Rights during the summer of 1996.

“I used to row crew for Wesleyan. I walked into Middletown on Friday over the Arrigoni Bridge from Portland. I used to row under that bridge. And I swam under that bridge during my Swim for Universal Human Rights in 1996. It’s not just another bridge to me,” he said. “And Middletown is not just another town.”

While in Middletown, Swain made a point of connecting with one of his favorite professors, Jeanine Basinger, as he passed the 160-mile mark of his March. “Jeanine transmitted the values of discipline, deep work, and clear thinking to her students. The values and skills she taught me shape my work every day.”

Swain’s March for the Kids is supported entirely by donations. Through a crowdfunding effort, he hopes to raise enough to cover the costs of the march, crew, equipment, and events, and eventually, a documentary film. For more information, follow Swain on Twitter @marchforthekids or email MarchForTheKids@gmail.com.