Olivia Drake

Japanese Community Celebrates Spring with Cherry Blossom Festival

On April 17, Wesleyan’s Japanese community gathered outside the College of East Asian Studies to celebrate Ohanami, or “flower viewing.” In early spring, three sakura—or cherry blossom trees—are blooming near the Japanese Garden.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual gathering was restricted to current students studying Japanese and CEAS faculty members.

The cherry trees were donated in the mid-70s by Nobel Laureate Satoshi Omura, who received an honorary degree from Wesleyan in 1994.

“The cherry blossoms’ timing was perfect,” said event coordinator Naho Maruta, associate professor of the practice in East Asian Studies. “We had fallen cherry blossoms all over the ground, which made a beautiful cherry blossom carpet.”

Maruta said this year’s event was especially meaningful because it was canceled last year. Also, since Japanese classes are still taught online this semester, “some students and teachers finally met each other for the first time in person.”

Photos of the event are below:

cherry blossom

cherry blossom

Wesleyan in the News

NewsSeveral Wesleyan faculty and alumni have appeared in national media outlets recently. They include:

April 7
The Boston Globe – She Loves Theater, Dessert, and New Zealand — and Can’t Wait to Get to Japan. Features HowlRound director Jamie Gahlon, who is currently completing her master’s degree in performance curation at Wesleyan.

US Lacrosse Magazine – Behind the Whistle: All in the Family. Features Carly Randall, assistant lacrosse coach at Wesleyan.

Street Insider – Avalonbay Communities news. Mentions Richard Lieb ’81, P’22, senior advisor at Greenhill & Co., LLC, a publicly traded investment bank.

Talking Biz News – Barlyn departs Reuters. Features Suzanne Barlyn ’88, who will become assistant director of media and public relations at insurance company The Hartford.

Stamford Advocate – Wesleyan seniors conduct research at Long Lane Forest in Middletown. Features Wesleyan’s earth and environmental science majors.

April 8
VoyageLA – Rising Stars: Meet Naomi Ekperigin. Features Naomi Ekperigin ’05.

The Cornell Daily Sun – University Assembly Votes to Cut Ties with ICE, Broaden Emissions Reporting. Mentions that Wesleyan has established itself as a sanctuary campus.

Wonderlust – Nightstand, Books We Recommend. Features Brenda Coultas, whose next collection of poetry, The Writing of an Hour, will be published in 2022 by Wesleyan University Press.

April 11
Portland Press Herald – Waynflete Flyers Winter Athletes of the Year. Features Chris Saadé ’25, who “plans to row and study government at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.”

April 12
Waste Today – Middletown Partners with Composting Firm on Food Waste Recycling Initiative. Mentions Wesleyan.

The Hour – Wesleyan University in Middletown to ‘ensure’ students are immunized for fall semester. Mentions Wesleyan and President Michael Roth.

Fox News – FOX News Media names Gugar new General Counsel, EVP of Corporate Development. Mentions that Bernard Gugar ’86 graduated from Wesleyan with a dual degree in psychology and American studies.

The Republican Journal – Maine Sen. Angus King Adds Staff Additions. Mentions Nancy Billings ’19 and Wesleyan University.

Cornell University – Study: More exposure to political TV ads heightens anxiety. Mentions Wesleyan.

Johns Hopkins University Hub – Historian Todd Shepard ’91 awarded Guggenheim Fellowship.

Literary Hub – How Nellie Y. McKay Forged a Path for the Study of African American Literature. Mentions Wesleyan University Professor Emerita Gayle Pemberton.

All Events – In Art History from Home: Me, Myself, and. Mentions Josh Lubin-Levy ’06 and Wesleyan University.

The Boston Globe – Brigham and Women’s Hospital Doctor Dies in Tragic Fall in the Dominican Republic. Quotes Dr. Robert Soiffer ’79.

April 13
Darien Times – Middletown Residents, Wesleyan Professors Write, Direct ‘American Oz’ Documentary. Features Wesleyan University faculty Randall MacLowry and Tracy Heather Strain.

Health News Digest – Children with Autism May Not Be Receiving the Right Level of Treatment. Mentions Jamie Pagliaro ’98.

WFDD – Sonny Simmons, Fiercely Independent Alto Saxophonist, Dies at 87. Mentions Wesleyan Private Lessons Teacher Pheeroan akLaff.

The Middletown Press – Wesleyan Long Lane Farm grant to help Middletown residents access affordable produce. Mentions that Long Lane Farm is the recipient of a 2021 Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship Seed Grant from Wesleyan.

PR Web – Industry Experts Release Whitepaper On The Realities, Opportunities, And Risks Associated With Diminished Decision-Making Capacity. Mentions Chris Heye ’81, P’14, the CEO and founder of Whealthcare Solutions, Inc. and Whealthcare Planning LLC.

My Silly Little Gang – Geneticist and Pediatrician Dr. Hamosh Receives David L. Rimoin Lifetime Achievement Award in Medical Genetics from the ACMG Foundation for Genetic and Genomic Medicine. Features Dr. Ada Hamosh ’81.

News 12 Connecticut – Students must get COVID-19 Vaccination to Return to Campus in Fall. Features Wesleyan. This story also appears in:
Fox 61
Connecticut Patch
WTNH News 8
CT Mirror
Stamford Daily Voice|
CT Post
NBC Connecticut
Hartford Courant
WFSB Eyewitness News 3

April 14
The New York Times – COVID-19 in New York: Variants and Johnson & Johnson. Mentions that Wesleyan University became the first university in Connecticut to require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Middletown Press – Hartford indie coffee shop to open eatery in Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookshop.

Healthcare Technology Report – The Top 50 Healthcare Technology CEOs Of 2021. Mentions Marc Casper ’90, P’23, president and chief executive officer of Thermo Fisher Scientific.

April 15
Whitehouse.gov – President Biden Announces His Intent to Nominate Key Administration Leaders in the State Department. Features Karen Donfried ’84, nominee for assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Record Journal – Colleges working to get students, staff vaccinated. Community Health Center expects to vaccinate about 3,000 students at Wesleyan University in Middletown on April 24 and 25.

Daily Magazine – The top 11 cornerbacks in the 2021 NFL draft. Mentions former Wesleyan football player Mark McAleenan ’97.

April 16
The Washington Post – The Art of the Photograph; the Photograph as Art. Op-ed by Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78.

Variety – Variety Entertainment Impact Report: Top 50 Film Schools and Instructors From Around the World. Mentions Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image.

Market Screener – Scotts Miracle-Gro news. Scotts Miracle-Gro hires Jim Esquea ’90 as Vice President of Public Affairs.

Market Screener – Springworks Therapeutics news. Mentions Daniel Lynch ’80, P’11, ’14.

WFSB – Colleges and universities are making COVID vaccine more accessible to students. Mentions that “Wesleyan is the only university in the state requiring a COVID-19 vaccine.”

The Wall Street Journal – ‘Hamilton’ Creator Partners With Posse Foundation to Mentor Arts Students. Features Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 who had “started writing his Broadway musical ‘In the Heights’ during his sophomore year at Wesleyan University, he had just moved into a campus house with eight fellow Latino students.”

The Nation – How BLM Is Subtly Shaping the Chauvin Trial. Features an op-ed by Associate Professor of Government Sonali Chakravarti.

Market Screener – Razer Inc. news. Mentions Kevin Kwok Fun Chau ’83.

Market Screener – Mentions Michael Kishbauch ’71, P’07, former as president and chief executive officer of Achillion Pharmaceuticals.

April 17
NBC Connecticut – COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Held For High School Students in Middletown. Features the Community Health Center’s vaccination clinic at Wesleyan.

April 19
NBC – An ‘enormous burden’: Chauvin trial jurors will face scrutiny – no matter their verdict. Quotes Sonali Chakravarti.

The Missouri Review – “Not an Ode to April 22nd, 2019” Gisselle Yepes. Features poem by Gisselle Yepes ’20 and mentions Wesleyan’s Winchester Fellowship and Wesleyan’s The Ankh.

USA News Hub – Microbes are ‘unknown unknowns’ despite being vital to all life, says study. Quotes Frederick Cohan, Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment.

Yahoo! News via The Hartford Courant – Connecticut colleges and universities will fully reopen this fall, but state won’t require COVID-19 vaccines, letting individual schools decide. Mentions Wesleyan.

April 20
The New Haven Register – Albertus honors professor, coach who fought ‘brave battle with cancer.’ Features honor longtime Professor Ron Waite CAS ’82, “who holds a Certificate of Advanced Study in Art (Film and Video) from Wesleyan University.”

Alumni, Experts Discuss “(Un)Knowing” at 3rd Annual TedXWesleyanU

ted xIn the spirit of sharing ideas worth spreading, Wesleyan students hosted the third annual TEDxWesleyanU conference on April 16–17.

Titled “(Un)Knowing,” the event’s speakers included:

    • Alford Young Jr. ’88, professor of sociology, Afroamerican and African studies, and public policy at the University of Michigan
    • Field Yates ’09, NFL Insider for ESPN and co-host of “Fantasy Football”
    • Emily McEvoy ’22, College of Social Studies major, 2021 Student Speaker Competition Winner, and Middletown Mutual Aid organizer
    • Gato Nsengamungu ’23, physics and government double major from Rwanda
    • Doug Berman ’84, two-time Peabody Award-winning producer of NPR’s “Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!” and “Car Talk”

Wesleyan to Require Students to be Vaccinated for the Fall 2021 Semester

keep wes safeNext fall, Wesleyan will require all students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to returning to campus.

Every student (with the exception of those who have approved medical or religious exemptions) will need to verify with the University that they are fully vaccinated prior to their arrival.

For students who are currently studying on campus, Wesleyan, in partnership with the Community Health Center, is offering a Pfizer vaccine clinic on April 24 and 25 (first dose), and again on May 15 or 16 (second dose). Nearly 2,000 students have already registered for an appointment.

The University highly encourages faculty and staff to be vaccinated as soon as they are able.

For more updates and information, visit the Keep Wes Safe website.

Nonfiction Journalism Class Explores the Continuing Battle for COVID-19 Normalcy

tin can

In a recently-published essay, Chapin Montague ’21 tells the story of Wesleyan students Michayla Robertson-Pine ’22 (top left) and Elizabeth “Liz” Woolford ’21 (top right) who created a virtual after-school learning community for children called Tin Can Learners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Montague and several other Wesleyan students wrote pandemic-related essays for their class, The Art and Craft of Journalistic Nonfiction.

As part of a class assignment for the spring 2021 course Topics in Journalism: The Art and Craft of Journalistic Nonfiction, students were tasked with writing short essays on the continuing battle for normalcy while attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The class is taught by Daniel de Visé ’89, Koeppel Journalism Fellow. After graduating from Wesleyan and Northwestern University, de Visé spent 23 years working in newspapers. He shared a 2001 team Pulitzer Prize and garnered more than two dozen other national and regional journalism awards. He’s also the author of three books.

Journalistic nonfiction, de Visé, explained, uses the tools of the newsroom to create long-form stories that read like novels. Books such as Moneyball, The Orchid Thief, The Warmth of Other Suns, “are grounded in journalistic nonfiction,” he said.

“The class is about how to write nonfiction using the tools of novel-writing and cinema,” de Visé said. “It’s all based on journalism—fact-based reporting. We’re reading and writing stories that have central characters who overcome literary conflicts in a scene-driven narrative.”

A sampling of the articles are published here and descriptions are below.

basketball team

Kiran Kling ’24, pictured at far left, wrote an essay about being on the men’s basketball team during the COVID-19 pandemic. Olu Oladitan ’24, pictured in the center, is featured in the essay.

Kiran Kling ’24 focused his essay, “The Call” on being a student-athlete during the pandemic. With spring sports canceled during the 2020-21 academic year, Kling explained how the 15 members of the men’s basketball team would gather on Zoom every Wednesday night to share updates, network with alumni, and “crack jokes in the players-only group chat during the call.” Read Kling’s essay online here.

Sophie Talcove-Berko ’21 shared her experience of being a college senior during the COVID-19 pandemic. In her essay, “Ski School,” Talcove-Berko wrote about the difficult decisions her peers made during their final year at Wes: “some deferred, some returned, and some went remote.” Talcove-Berko framed her essay around Tammy Shine ’21 who originally planned to return to Wesleyan this spring for her final semester of college, but instead chose to study remotely in Lake Tahoe. “While it was her final chance to live with her college friends on campus, she found the mountains rejuvenating for the mind, body, and soul,” Talcove-Berko wrote. Read Talcove-Berko’s essay online here.

Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore to Partner with Story and Soil Coffee Co.

story and soil

Hartford, Conn.-based Story and Soil Coffee Co. will open its second location inside Wesleyan R.J. Julia on May 1.

Patrons of Wesleyan R.J. Julia Bookstore can soon sip while they shop.

This month, the bookstore partnered with Hartford-based Story and Soil Coffee Co., which will open its second location inside Wesleyan R.J. Julia on May 1.

Story and Soil Coffee Co., a multi-roaster specialty coffee shop, opened for business in July of 2017 “with a vision to create a supportive and positive culture, celebrate our vibrant community, and build relationships through coffee,” according to the company’s website.

The company’s founder, Michael Acosta, became interested in coffee while running Trinity College’s Underground Coffeehouse as a student. He later launched his first startup venture, N2 Coffee, the first mobile nitro cold brew in Connecticut.

Story and Soil will offer hot, cold, and iced coffee, espresso, teas, specialty, and seasonal drinks. Starting in June, the business will add hot food and baked goods to its menu.

Rj Julia

The Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore opened in 2017.

Wesleyan partnered with the Madison-based RJ Julia Booksellers in 2017 to open the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore on Main Street in Middletown. The two-story 13,000-square-foot business houses approximately 18,000 books, with a special section highlighting authors from the Wesleyan community. The store also sells a wide range of both Wesleyan-themed and general apparel and merchandise.

The Middlesex Chamber of Commerce will host a grand opening ceremony for Story and Soil in mid-June.

Read more in this Hartford Courant article.

Admitted Students Explore Wesleyan during Virtual WesFest

As part of Wesleyan’s Admitted Student Events, the Office of Admission hosted its 2021 WesFest in a virtual platform April 7-9.

Class of 2025 admitted students and their families were able to log into 121 events and informational sessions on topics such as financial aid, academic resources, student activities, studying abroad, student technology, residential life, and religious life.

Of the 13,145 applications received for a spot in the Class of 2025, 2,544 were admitted. View the full Class of 2025 profile online here. During WesFest, more than 890 of the admitted students attended at least one session.

In addition to virtual tours and academic open houses, admitted students attended a student-to-student panel discussion to meet current students and learn about campus life, academics, and extracurricular academic activities at Wesleyan in an informal conversation.

On April 8, Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez ’96, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, welcomed guests to WesFest and spoke to admitted students and their families about the reason he decided to say “Yes to Wes!”

“I found myself attracted to Wes because of its size, because of the dynamic diversity, because of the balance, and all the ways that matter to me—not being too big or too small, not being urban but neither rural…” Gonzalez said. “I came here as an undergrad back in the early ’90s, spent my four years here, and had a transformative experience.”

Some of WesFest’s highlighted sessions are featured below:

activities fair

Student Activities & Leadership Development (SALD) student staff presented a guide to student organizations during a virtual Student Activities Fair. In addition to highlighting various student organizations at Wesleyan, the student staff offered an introduction to WesNest, the main platform of information for and about student groups.

Jonesy Moore '21

During a student-to-student panel discussion, Jonesy Moore ’21 spoke about changing academic directions after exploring the open curriculum. “I was completely clueless [about] what I was doing, so I came in as a neuro major [and] did not end up being a neuro major,” Moore said. Moore added that in addition to academics, students have the opportunity to try new extracurricular activities, regardless of prior experience. When first on campus, Moore became involved with Second Stage theatre company and Cardinal Pictures, a student-run film production group. “The first day we filmed, I had to learn how to focus the camera, like I was completely in the dark for that,” he recalled.

At the discussion, Tashfia Jilu ’22 offered advice to prospective students. “If you're feeling intimidated, it's okay,” Jilu said. “I remember my WesFest. I was listening to this whole panel for people saying I'm involved in this, I'm involved in [that], I'm double majoring, triple majoring…. it just sounded so intimidating. Jilu, who is pre-med and majoring in Science and Society, emphasized that the open curriculum makes it easier for students to explore multiple academic disciplines. You'll probably end up doing [multiple majors] just because it's the nature of Wes,” Jilu added. “You'll end up doing it even if you think you can't or you're intimidated right now. I just want to throw that out there.”

Tashfia Jilu ’22, who is pre-med and majoring in science in society, also offered advice to prospective students. “If you’re feeling intimidated, it’s okay,” Jilu said. “I remember my WesFest. I was listening to this whole panel of people saying I’m involved in this, I’m involved in [that], I’m double majoring, triple majoring…. It just sounded so intimidating, but the open curriculum makes it easier for students to explore multiple academic disciplines. You’ll probably end up doing [multiple majors] just because it’s the nature of Wes,” Jilu added.

6-7pm All-Star Alumni Panel Mark your calendars and cancel your plans! You're definitely going to want to join us for this all-star alumni panel moderated by Bradley Whitford '81 with Santigold '96, Angela Yee '97, and Beanie Feldstein '15! Come learn about their journeys to, through and post-Wesleyan! https://wesleyan.zoom.us/j/92233082126

WesFest’s All-Star Alumni Panel featured (clockwise from top left) Beanie Feldstein ’15, Bradley Whitford ’81, Angela Yee ’97, and Santigold ’96.

beanie

“I feel like my brain [was] cracked open. I think I said that 50 times during my first two years at Wesleyan,” Feldstein said. “Knowing that to be your best at whatever you want to do you have to use the people around you and learn from the people around you versus trying to push people out of the way to get where you want to go. That Wesleyan spirit is something that really sticks with me.”

“I just realized there was a huge difference between the way that my brain worked and the way that I approached a lot of things versus people who didn't have this broad exposure in education. I was an African American studies major and a music double major, but I had never learned anything about African American studies until I got Wesleyan.

After graduating from Wesleyan with a double major in African American studies and music, Santigold “realized there was a huge difference between the way that my brain worked and the way that I approached a lot of things versus people who didn’t have this broad exposure in education.”

Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez '96, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, hosted a "Chat with your Admission Dean." "Our students learn to push beyond the boundaries and to not accept limitations, whether their self-imposed or imposed on them by others," he said. "That's the thing about Wes—you can't reduce us to a single adjective."

Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez ’96, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, hosted a “Chat with your Admission Dean.” “Our students learn to push beyond the boundaries and to not accept limitations, whether they’re self-imposed or imposed on them by others,” he said. “That’s the thing about Wes—you can’t reduce us to a single adjective.”

Emily Moon '21 "My experience at Wesleyan has allowed me to pursue everything I wanted to—ranging from language to academics at a very high level—to really in-depth research and having all those opportunities in a community where I felt so welcomed and so accepted," Moon said. "I think there's something super unique about Wesleyan, and so I think this place has given me so much in the way of academic growth and the way of personal growth."

During the WesFest welcome on April 9, Emily Moon ’21 spoke about her Wesleyan experience. “Wesleyan has allowed me to pursue everything I wanted to—ranging from language to academics at a very high level to really in-depth research—and having all those opportunities in a community where I felt so welcomed and so accepted,” Moon said. “I think there’s something super unique about Wesleyan, and so I think this place has given me so much in the way of academic growth and the way of personal growth.”

long lane farm tour

Charlotte George ’24 offered a virtual tour of Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm and answered questions from admitted students.

During a "Hot Topics for Parents" panel discussion, parents of admitted students were able to ask current Wesleyan students about campus life. "We hype up college as like this incredible experience that should be perfect, but it's also real life so problems happen, things will go wrong, and it won't be exactly as you think it will be.
 But just enjoy it for what it is," said panelist Becca Baron '23. "It's a super unique experience that your child is going to get to have at a super amazing place like Wesleyan. I just to like take it one day at a time, and it'll all be okay."

During a “Hot Topics for Parents” panel discussion, parents of admitted students were able to ask current Wesleyan students about campus life. “We hype up college as this incredible experience that should be perfect, but it’s also real life so problems happen, things will go wrong, and it won’t be exactly as you think it will be.
 But just enjoy it for what it is,” said panelist Becca Baron ’23. “It’s a super unique experience that your child is going to get to have at a super amazing place like Wesleyan. I just like to take it one day at a time, and it’ll all be okay.”

wesfest film

Logan Ludwig, assistant director of events and programs for the College of Film and the Moving Image, and Scott Higgins, Charles W. Fries Professor of Film Studies, offered a live informational session about the College and the film studies major.

12-1pm Virtual Tour: College of Film and the Moving Image Join CFILM staff for a live tour

Higgins also provided a pre-recorded virtual tour of the College of Film and the Moving Image.

ResLife Q&A Join ResLife staff and students for a discussion about living on campus! Bring your questions about roommate selection, picking your dorm, what you can and can't have in your room and more!

Residential Life staff hosted a discussion about living on campus and answered questions about housing options, roommate selection, and more.

Physics Drop-In Meet a Physics Professor, see them do a cool Physics demo, or both! Each day will feature different hosts.

Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics, led a “Meet a Physics Professor” event during WesFest.

The 41st Annual Philip B. Brown ’44 Memorial Lecture was held in conjunction with WesFest. Speakers included President Michael Roth ’78, Senator Michael Bennet ’87, Hon.’12, and Senator John Hickenlooper ’74, MA’80, Hon ’10. Maria Santana-Guadalupe ’98, anchor and correspondent for CNN en Español served as moderator.

The 41st Annual Philip B. Brown ’44 Memorial Lecture was held in conjunction with WesFest. Speakers included President Michael Roth ’78, Senator Michael Bennet ’87, Hon.’12, and Senator John Hickenlooper ’74, MA’80, Hon. ’10. Maria Santana-Guadalupe ’98, anchor and correspondent for CNN en Español served as moderator.

Murillo Honored with $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry

Poet John Murillo is the 2021 recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award for his collection “Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry.” (Photo courtesy of Four Ways Books)

John Murillo is the 2021 recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award for his collection Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry. (Photo courtesy of Four Ways Books)

On April 7, poet John Murillo, assistant professor of English, was named the 2021 winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award for his recent collection Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books, 2020).

Murillo’s collection offers “a reflective look at the legacy of institutional, accepted violence against Blacks and Latinos and the personal and societal wreckage wrought by long histories of subjugation.”

The Kingsley Tufts Award is awarded to a mid-career poet and comes with a $100,000 prize.

Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry also was nominated for the 2021 PEN Open Book Award and the 2021 NAACP Images Awards in the Outstanding Literary Work — Poetry category.

This spring, Murillo is teaching ENGL 337: Advanced Poetry Workshop: Radical Revision.

Students Awarded $5,000 Seed Grants for Socially-Good Ventures

seed grant pitch

On April 2, six Patricelli Center Seed Grant finalists pitched their projects, virtually, to a panel of expert judges.

Wesleyan’s organic farm, an eco-friendly clothing store, and a clean water supplier in New Jersey are the recipients of the 2021 Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship Seed Grants. These student-led social ventures will each receive $5,000 in unrestricted funds as well as training, advising, mentoring, incubator workspace, and other resources from the Patricelli Center.

On April 2, a pool of finalists pitched their projects, virtually, to a panel of expert judges. Applicants were assessed on their project design, leadership qualities, and potential for social or environmental impact.

Seasoned Seed Grant judge and Patricelli Center Advisory Board member Syed Ali ’13 said the PCSE’s Seed Grant competition demonstrates “the best of Wesleyan. These students brought both creativity and critical thinking to their proposals. They see clearly that every person deserves clean water, good food, and a healthy planet and recognize we are going to have to think differently to achieve that.”

On April 5, the Patricelli Center announced the Seed Grant winners:

Infinitely: Doing Good While We’re Here by Nimra Karamat ’23 and Ashley Cardenas ’23.

Nimra Karamat ’23 and Ashley Cardenas ’23 are the co-creators of Infinitely: Doing Good While We’re Here. With Infinitely, Karamat and Cardenas are offering products that are made in an eco-friendly fashion.

Infinitely: Doing Good While We’re Here by Nimra Karamat ’23 and Ashley Cardenas ’23

Karamat and Cardenas are working to launch a sustainable, affordable line of clothing that combats the fast fashion industry and all the environmental and humanitarian concerns it raises. Their first collection will launch later this spring.

“We pride ourselves in doing good while we’re here, for when we’re no longer here,” Cardenas explained. “Fast fashion companies don’t offer quality in sustainable products. They create a high demand production for cheap materials to keep up with the latest trends.”

Infinitely is partnering with other sustainable businesses—small and large—to increase the demand and access to sustainable clothing.

“Unlike other sustainable businesses that overprice their clothing materials, Infinitely is dedicated to remaining accessible for everyone in advocating for social issues through our clothing materials,” she said.

Elam Grekin '22 and Franny Lin '21

Elam Grekin ’22 (pictured) and Franny Lin ’21 are members of Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm community.

Long Lane Farm, Summer Farming by Elam Grekin ’22 and Franny Lin ’21

Since its founding in 2003, Long Lane Farm has worked towards a model of food sovereignty, in which all people not only have access to affordable, healthy meals, but also have a say in how their food is produced.

“Following the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic to both the farm and our communities, we will look ahead, strengthen and expand our role in the community, and shore up our strategies for the future,” Lin said.

Lin and Grekin have both spent ample time growing food at Long Lane Farm, and they hope to use the farm as a means of helping fight food insecurity in Middletown. They seek to create a farm stand, launch educational initiatives, and host community events to bring people together while working towards their goal.

“As the pandemic eases, this is the time for us to rebuild our relationships with the Middletown community,” Lin explained. “This grant would allow us to hire more farmers, giving us the freedom to focus on community building and food insecurity without having to sacrifice our ecological growing practices or vegetable yields. It will also allow someone to focus on the longevity of these relationships.”

Newark Water Association by Vincent Henrich '24.

Vincent Henrich ’24 created Newark Water Association by

Newark Water Association by Vincent Henrich ’24

Henrich launched the Newark Water Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, in 2020 to provide the community of Newark, N.J. with access to clean, safe, and free water.

“Newark residents are still drinking lead-contaminated water,” Henrich said. “The immediate need is not being met. This is where Newark Water Association stepped in. We supported the immediate need by supplying those who needed the water the most with our bottled water project.”

He focuses on giving bottled water to groups who could not otherwise access uncontaminated water.

Runners up included: B4 ~ Bold, Brave, Beautiful, Bald by Kara Hodge ’24 and Alexis Papavasiliou ’24; Hearth Creative Co. LLC by Nélida Zepeda ’23; and Olive Branch Pictures Inc. by Andrew Hirsh ’20, Kevin DeLoughry ’21, and Liam Trampota ’18. The Seed Grant and other Patricelli Center programs are made possible by numerous donors and volunteers, including Propel Capital, Newman’s Own Foundation, and the Norman Ernst Priebatsch Endowed Fund for Entrepreneurship.

Ali, who works as an analyst for HR&A Advisors, an urban planning / public policy / economic development consulting firm, admired the diversity of projects pitched by the students. 

“For every single venture, even the ones who were not crowned winners, the judges saw tremendous potential in what these students could achieve with the passion and leadership they demonstrated,” Ali said. “These students and teams exemplify the spirit of innovation and impact shared by so many members of the Wesleyan community.”

 

American Oz by MacLowry, Strain to Premiere April 19

ozA film written, directed, and produced by College of Film and the Moving Image faculty Randall MacLowry and Tracy Heather Strain explores the life and times of author L. Frank Baum, the creator of the beloved classic American narrative, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

MacLowry is assistant professor of the practice in film studies and Strain is associate professor of film studies. Together they direct the Wesleyan Documentary Project.

Titled American Oz, the documentary depicts how Baum continued to reinvent himself—working as a chicken breeder, actor, marketer of petroleum products, shopkeeper, newspaperman, and traveling salesman—while reinterpreting his observations through films, books, and musicals.

Featuring interviews with Wesleyan’s Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, Emerita; Wicked author Gregory Maguire, and historian Philip Deloria, and others, American Oz shows how Baum wove together scraps and shards of his own experiences into an enduring work of the imagination. As a young husband and father, Baum was continually struggling to support his growing family. His quest to find his true calling led him through a dozen enterprises; some were abandoned for the next big thing and others failed. But each provided Baum with fodder that could be transformed in his writing.

The documentary premieres from 9 to 11 p.m. EST on Monday, April 19 on PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS Video App.

This spring at Wesleyan, MacLowry is teaching FILM 457: Advanced Filmmaking, and Strain is teaching FILM 384: Documentary Storytelling and FILM 430: Documentary Production.