Tag Archive for Class of 2008

Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan in the News

1. The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Beware the Doyens of Disruption”

In this op-ed, President Michael Roth ’78 responds to predictions that COVID-19 is going to “change everything” in higher education with a reminder that “the desire of bright young people from all over the world for an on-campus education remains strong.” He writes, “It’s because the connectivity among people and practices that takes place in person intensifies the learning experience.”

2. HxA Podcast: “Michael Roth, Safe Enough Spaces”

President Michael Roth ’78 is interviewed on the Heterodox Academy’s podcast about his book, Safe Enough Spaces: A Pragmatist’s Approach to Inclusion, Free Speech, and Political Correctness on College Campuses. Heterodox Academy recently chose Safe Enough Spaces as the subject of its first ever book club. Roth was also recently interviewed on “The Way We Live Now,” a podcast from Dani Shapiro P ’22.

3. The Wall Street Journal: “Noted: Class of 2020”

The Wall Street Journal featured remarks by Caroline Bhupathi ’20 delivered at Wesleyan’s virtual commencement ceremony on May 24.

4. TLS: “Respect New Haven”

Assistant Professor of English Hirsh Sawhney reflects on the past, present, and politics of New Haven as he takes long, rambling walks through his city with his dog Pinky, a tiny chihuahua-dachshund mix.

5. PIX11: “College Students Create Program Connecting Young People with Senior Citizens in COVID-19 Isolation”

Marysol Castro ’96 features “Support a Pal,” a program created by Walker Brandt ’22 and Lars Delin ’22 to form connections between college students and elderly people in order to combat social isolation during the pandemic.

5. NJ.com: “‘A Smile Never Left His Face’: Steve Pikiell’s Forgotten Season Leading a Division-3 Underdog, 20 Years Before Rutgers”

Wesleyan alumni recall Steve Pikiell’s brief but memorable time as head coach of Wesleyan’s basketball team, long before he became head coach of Rutgers’ men’s basketball team. “I needed a guy like that in my life when he came along,” said Josh Schaer ’96, one of the senior captains on the team. “He had this infectious energy about basketball. He made me love the game again. He was just able to give us a boost. He lived up to expectations. He was a breath of fresh air. A smile never left his face. He loved where he was and he loved what he was doing.”

Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan in the News

1. CNN: “How Coronavirus Has Reshaped Democratic Plans for 2020”

This article on how Democrats are politicizing the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis features research by the Wesleyan Media Project, which found that this past month has seen a huge drop in campaign advertising overall. “The messaging and the attacks that we’ve seen on [coronavirus] do feel louder … in part because there are fewer messages overall,” said Erika Franklin Fowler, associate professor of government, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project. She notes that health care was emerging as a top issue in 2020 advertising for Democrats even before the pandemic began, so “it’s not surprising that Democrats appear poised to focus on the pandemic and the Trump administration’s response to it as part of their larger strategy to hit Trump and Republicans on health care.”

Students Engage with Google Employees through Career Virtual Panel

On Feb. 27, the Gordon Career Center hosted a Google Career Virtual Panel featuring Wesleyan alumni who offered insight on their roles in sales, business, product management, marketing, legal issues, and other roles at Google.

The panel was assembled by Sherry Liang ’20, who completed a WEShadow at Google last winter, and Peer Career Advisor Esmye Lytle ’21.

Speakers included:

Aaron Stoertz '03

Aaron Stoertz ’03

Aaron Stoertz ’03: Stoertz graduated with a BA in English. Since then he worked in conservation biology, public health, and international health policy at the World Health Organization before landing in tech, where he’s worked his way into a position as a product manager at Google Health.

Terry Wei ’07: Wei has 13 years of experience in public relations and communications. She currently leads communications for Waze, the world’s leading crowdsourced navigation app. Previously, Wei was head of public relations at Squarespace and managed product communications at Mercedes-Benz. Originally from California, Wei studied English at Wesleyan and graduated in 2007.

Stein ’08 Wins 2018 Marine Corps Marathon

Stein '08 wins Marine Corps Marathon

D.C. Public Defender Jeffrey Stein ’08 won the 2018 Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 28 with an official time of 2:22:49. (Photo courtesy Jeff Stein)

Jeffrey Stein ’08 had only one thing on his mind when he registered for the 43rd Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.—redemption.

After a wrong turn off-course a quarter mile into the race in 2017 landed him an 8th place finish and a trip to the hospital for heat stroke, Stein registered for the 2018 race with one overriding goal: “to reclaim a little bit of dignity.” He achieved his goal and more, surging ahead in the last 2 miles to finish first with an official time of 2 hours 22 minutes 49 seconds.

Pearce ’08 Directs LoveYourBrain Yoga for Patients with Traumatic Brain Injuries

Kyla Pearce ’08 works with people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury, teaching yoga as a technique to calm their minds and develop mind-body connections through the LoveYourBrain yoga program. “For me, yoga has been a pathway to connecting with myself in a more authentic and kinder way,” she says. “For much of my life, I was constantly pushing myself to achieve and measuring my self-worth based on these outcomes and how others perceived me. Yoga and meditation have helped me learn to recognize that my strength and value comes from within, and also how to observe instead of becoming entangled in my thoughts.”

Kyla Donnelly Pearce ’08, a government major at Wesleyan with a certificate in international relations, is now senior director of the LoveYourBrain yoga program, an outgrowth of the work her husband and the Pearce family are doing for those who suffer from traumatic brain injury. Their journey began after snowboarder Kevin Pearce, Kyla’s brother-in-law, was injured in a training accident in Utah on Dec. 31, 2009, as he prepared for the Olympic trials. The previous year he had won three medals at the 2008 Winter X Games XII in Aspen, Colo. He spent the first six months of 2010 in rehabilitation hospitals with brother Adam (Kyla’s spouse) at his side, before returning home to Vermont to continue healing.

Kyla Pearce’s interest in yoga has become an integral part of that healing.

“I vividly remember being in Dharamsala, India, with my 200-hour yoga teacher training program nearly completed—when I received an excited call from Adam. Kevin, he said, was finding a sense of peace, accomplishment and vitality in yoga and meditation that were unavailable elsewhere,” she recalls.

When she returned, she saw it for herself. “I noticed that he loved the feeling of accomplishment from engaging with what he deemed a fitting challenge (be it focusing his mind in meditation or holding a strength-building yoga posture), instead of assessing his progress based on some medical benchmark. When he practiced yoga, he no longer felt defined by his injury.

“The LoveYourBrain yoga program grew out of the need that my husband, Adam Pearce, saw for supporting his brother—and others affected by TBI—in the healing process.”

While it admittedly seems a circuitous path—from government major to therapeutic yoga instructor, Pearce notes it is actually more linked than it might appear. At Wesleyan, she was on a premed track with a clear goal:

“I wanted to be at the helm of delivering women’s health care services, specifically maternal health and family planning, in underserved communities abroad,” she says, noting her undergraduate interest in international relations. As for yoga during that period, she sporadically showed up in the basement of the Butterfield dorms, where her friend taught a yoga class. Pearce still keeps one track of her life back on her original health-care goals, completing an MPH at Dartmouth with a focus on women’s health. She is now midway through a doctorate there, investigating the quality of abortion care in the United States. On the other track, yoga has come into prominence.

Quigley ’08 is Knight Cities Challenge Winner

Caitlin Quigley ’08 received a Knight Cities Fellowship for her project, "20 Book Clubs, 20 Cooperative Businesses."

Caitlin Quigley ’08 won a Knight Cities Challenge for her project in Philadelphia: “20 Book Clubs, 20 Cooperative Businesses.”


(By Margaret Curtis ’16)

Philadelphia-based Caitlin Quigley ’08 was selected as a winner of the Knight Cities Challenge for her project “20 Book Clubs, 20 Cooperative Businesses.” The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded 37 winners out of a pool of more than 4,500 applicants with a share of $5 million to support one of the 26 communities in which the foundation invests.

Quigley and her organization, the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA), were awarded $146,000 to implement her project, which will support neighborhood businesses. Quigley’s project will form 20 community-based book clubs of six to 12 people who will choose readings, films, and field trips that pertain to cooperatives. In six months, each book club will identify a business need in their neighborhood—such as a lack of grocery stores, credit unions, childcare centers, hardware stores, or artist studios—and form a business cooperative to meet that need.

PACA is a cooperative and a 501(c)3 nonprofit that aims to support the local economy by promoting local cooperatives.

The mission of the Knight Cities Challenge is to support initiatives that aid growing communities through what the Knight Foundation calls the “three drivers of city success:” attracting and keeping talented people, expanding economic opportunities, and creating a culture of civic engagement.

“This project will bring together residents to learn and work collaboratively in order to build long-lasting community-owned businesses,” Quigley said.

At Wesleyan, she double majored in Spanish and film studies.


Lubell ’98, Lexton ’08, Marcus ’13 on Top National Noteworthy Lists

Jordyn Lexton ’08, founder of Drive Change

Jordyn Lexton ’08, founder of Drive Change

Forbes named Jordyn Lexton ’08 and Guy Marcus ’13 to the 2016 “30 under 30” list for 2016, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy highlighted David Lubell ’98 as one of the “40 Under 40.”

Under the headline, “Todays Brightest Young Stars and The Future Leaders of Everything” Forbes magazine highlighted two Wesleyan alumni in their fifth annual listings of the top 30 young leaders in 20 different categories.

From an initial list of 15,000, Jordyn Lexton ’08 made the listing in entrepreneurs. Lexton is the founder of “Drive Change,” which employs previously incarcerated youth, teaching food preparation as well as providing positions in their award-winning culinary vehicle in NYC.

Memorable, Inspiring Speeches and 737 New Graduates at 2008 Commencement

Senator Barack Obama delivered the 176th commencement speech May 25.
Posted 06/03/08
When a pinch hitter comes into a game, it’s usually a crucial moment — hope balanced against uncertainty. At Wesleyan’s 176th Commencement May 25, the hope shone through, and by all accounts, the pinch hitter sent a grand slam far over the fences.

“I have the distinct honor today of pinch-hitting for one of my personal heroes and a hero to this country, Senator Edward Kennedy,” said U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.). “He called me up a few days ago and I said that I’d be happy to be his stand-in, even if there was no way that I could fill his shoes.”

Senator Obama then went on to give a speech talking about service inspiration that drew on his own experiences as well as the examples of Senator Kennedy and his brother, the late President John F. Kennedy.

As an estimated crowd of nearly 20,000 people listened, Senator Obama spoke about challenges graduating students faced from the daily “busyness” of their own lives to the needs for clean renewable power, more teachers for disadvantaged children, to rebuilding New Orleans.

“We need you,” Senator Obama said.

“At a time of war, we need you to work for peace. At a time of inequality, we need you to work for opportunity. At a time of so much cynicism and so much doubt, we need you to make us believe again. That’s your task, class of 2008.”

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth seemed to presage Senator Obama’s sentiments with his own remarks made moments before.

“Being in the company of students as gifted and energetic as Wesleyan’s class of 2008, gives me faith that we may well be able to reject the status quo, to build a politics and a culture of hope and community rather than of fear and divisiveness,” Roth said to the gathered graduates, who included 737 undergraduates awarded bachelor’s degrees, 29 students receiving master of arts degrees in individual fields, 64 master of arts in liberal studies degrees and 12 Ph.D. recipients.

Wesleyan also presented an Honorary Doctor of Laws to Senator Obama, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to author Jamaica Kincaid, an Honorary Doctor of Laws to Morton Owen Schapiro, Williams College president, and an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts to photographer Philip Trager ’56.

Rashida Richardson, senior class president and student speaker, acknowledged the accomplishments that she and her peers made during their time at Wesleyan.

“Some [classmates] participated in the World Universities Debating Championship in Bangkok. Two were recipients of the Projects for Peace award, which are going to help build a bio-gas digester in Kenya. The student-run Long Lane farm was awarded Connecticut’s Higher Education Community Service Award. Two students have received prestigious Watson fellowships.”

Richardson also mentioned students who took trips to Mexico and Peru with Wesleyan Without Borders, and championed the student-run endowment initiative.

Senator Obama stayed through the entire ceremony, sitting by the stairs that the students ascended to receive their degrees, and shaking the hands of each recipient.

Senator Obama also left the crowd with a message from Senator Kennedy:

“To all those praying for my return to good health, I offer my heartfelt thanks. And to any who’d rather have a different result, I say, don’t get your hopes up just yet!” Click here to see video of Senator Obama’s complete speech.

Click here to see video of President Michael Roth’s complete speech.

Click here for additional Commencement materials.

By Media Relations staff. Photo by Nick Lacy.

2008 Honorary Degree Recipients Announced

Posted 04/04/08
An award-winning writer, a college president known for his expertise in the economics of higher education, and a critically acclaimed photographer will be honored at Wesleyan University’s 176th commencement ceremonies this year.

Jamaica Kincaid, Morton Schapiro and Philip Trager of Wesleyan’s Class of 1956 will receive honorary doctorate degrees from Wesleyan on May 25, 2008.

“We are delighted that these talented and accomplished individuals have agreed to honor us by participating in our commencement,” said Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth. “Each exemplifies the qualities of courage and engagement, discernment and discipline that are essential to innovation and to leadership in all areas of human endeavor. They inspire all of us to make the most of the opportunities we have been given, in the best and truest spirit of liberal education.”

Born on the island of Antigua, author Jamaica Kincaid has been called the most important West Indian writer today. Her works include a collection of essays, A Small Place, which describes how conditions in Antigua worsened after independence in 1967, the novels The Autobiography of My Mother, Annie John, and Lucy, and the short story collection At the Bottom of the River. Kincaid gave the Annie Sonnenblick Lecture at Wesleyan in 2001.

Morton Schapiro, president of Williams College since 2000, is an economist who has taught at Williams and at the University of Southern California. Author of more than 50 articles and six books, he is among the nation’s premier authorities on the economics of higher education, with particular expertise in college financing and affordability, and on trends in educational costs.

Philip Trager ’56 is an internationally known photographer whose images are held by major collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Bibliothéque in Paris. He is particularly known for his work in dance and architecture. Wesleyan holds a collection of his work, including images of the campus.

U.S. Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy (D-Mass), was scheduled to address the graduating seniors. However, in his absence, Senator Senator Barack Obama (D-Il), will address the graduating seniors this year.