Tag Archive for Class of 2012

“Senior Voices” Address by Ben Shiling ’12

Ben Shiling ’12 delivered a “Senior Voices” Address May 26.

Hi, my name is Ben and I am an English major. To many, my parents included, this was a deliberate choice to either a) bank on grad school for a “good job,” or b) become an English teacher. Period. English major did not say to them “this is a man with a diversified future.” I was asked recently “what were you planning on doing with that” at a job interview. Ah! The life of a liberal arts graduate! We are a disreputable bunch, misfits, iconoclasts, destined, as Whitman proudly boasts, “to lean and loaf at our ease.” Well, it’s not that easy, but it is fun.

My story is largely one of making mistakes and getting out of holes I dug for myself. I needed lots of help to do this. My parents, a few friends, some providential support and even more mistakes gave me strength to eventually enlist in the Marines at 20, earn a degree from community college and succeed here at Wesleyan.

Upon arriving at Wesleyan, I realized three things. One, I was scared. Two, I belonged here. and Three, I had a lot to learn. I was more afraid of research papers than of convoy security on top of a Humvee in Iraq. It was terrifying, but easy to accept since I had no choice. Coming to Wesleyan was different.  I had made a choice to come, and the choice involved abandoning other choices that seemed more secure job wise. It was like jumping out of a plane with a parachute but no idea how to pull the chord. I was giving up, piece by piece. My wife and my two little girls kept me anchored, my friends in my recovery program from alcoholism kept me sane, and my parents kept me out of poverty while I looked desperately for a job.

“Senior Voices” Address by Max Bevilacqua ’12

Max Bevilacqua ’12 presented a “Senior Voices” speech in Memorial Chapel on May 26. 

There aren’t many places that I have felt comfortable wearing a dress in public. If you had told me, before I transferred from Georgetown, that in a few short months I would be sporting a cute little pink number with a deep v-neck in Beckham Hall, my Jesuit professors would have cried, and I would have laughed in disbelief. And if you had told me, that in a few short months at Wesleyan, I would be welcomed so warmly, challenged so fiercely, or inspired so deeply…I’m not sure I would have believed that either.

The night before my parents dropped me off on campus, I was curled up in the fetal position on the pullout couch of the Rocky Hill Marriot – taking comfort only in my reasonably priced Wesleyan sweatshirt from Broadstreet Books located conveniently at the intersection of Broad and William street. I didn’t think I could handle transferring as a junior. It wasn’t just about classes or making friends – it was the fear that I would never really feel like I belonged to the place I was walking into so late.

From the start, Wesleyan was a humbling experience. I missed the fact that it was prerequisite to have the voice of an angel or the ability to nonchalantly paint like Rembrandt. But I was going to be a varsity tennis player here…until I didn’t make the team.

Brighter Dawns Featured on News 8 WTNH

Brighter Dawns on News 8.

Brighter Dawns on News 8.

The Wesleyan Chapter of Brighter Dawns, a non-profit organization founded by Tasmiha Khan ’12, was featured on News 8 WTNH on May 11. Brighter Dawns raises funds to build latrines and wells in Bangladesh.

According to the report, Brighter Dawns started when Tasmiha Khan went to a slum in Bangladesh with her family and visited a young woman living in poverty. “Her name was Usma. She was about 15 years old. Had three children. Was forced into poverty at that time,” she said.

Khan started doing a few things to help that family, and when she came back to the U.S. she kept helping, forming the local chapter.

Brighter Dawns is currently trying to win the Dell Social Innovation Competition.

For information on the group and their mission visit http://brighterdawns.org/.

 

Odede ’12 Featured in Hartford Courant

Kennedy Odede ’12 was featured in a May 5 Hartford Courant article discussing his mother’s impact on all he has done in the last four years. Odede came to Wesleyan from the Kibera slum of Nairobi and has since built a school, a clean water latrine, and a health center back home.

“Work hard and read books. Look around you, but don’t hate,” Jane Achieng Odede told the young son she struggled to feed in Kibera, one of the world’s largest slums next to Kenya’s capital of Nairobi. Residents there are mostly jobless or live on less than a dollar a day, the article says.

He presented the Senior Class Welcome at Wesleyan’s 2012 Commencement.

150 Events during 2012 Reunion & Commencement Weekend May 24-27

All Wesleyan alumni and their families are invited to participate in the Parade of Classes. This traditional Wesleyan festivity begins at 11:30 a.m. May 26.

Join the Wesleyan community for class reunions, educational WESeminars, picnics, campus tours, a parade of classes and much more during the 2012 Reunion & Commencement festivities May 24-May 27 on campus.

Highlights include an Eclectic party featuring The Rooks; an all-college picnic and festival on Foss Hill; a 50th Reunion and President’s Reception for the Class of 1962; a champagne reception for graduating seniors and their families; an eco-friendly All-College Dinner; “Senior Voices” with the Class of 2012; the traditional All-College Sing; Andrus Field Tent party featuring Kinky Spigot and the Welders; and of course, the 180th Commencement Ceremony on May 27. U.S. Senator Michael Bennet ’87, a leading advocate for education reforms that support great teaching, will deliver the Commencement address.

“With more than 150 events, R&C Weekend literally has something for everyone,” says Gemma Fontanella Ebstein, associate vice president for external relations. “But it’s really the people – alumni, students, faculty, staff and their families – who make the weekend memorable.”

WESeminars provide opportunities to revisit the classroom and experience firsthand the academic excellence that is the essence of Wesleyan, with presentations by scholars, pundits,

Professor, 3 Students to Study, Teach Abroad as Fulbright Fellows

Su Zheng

As a 2012-12 Fulbright recipients, Miriam Berger ’12 will study journalism in Egypt; and Matthew Alexander ’12 and Lynn Heere ’12 will teach English in Germany. Su Zheng, associate professor of music, associate professor of East Asian studies, will study, “China’s Emergent Soundscape: New Music Creativities, Body Politics and the Internet in Defining a Global Chineseness,” in Shanghai, China.

The Fulbright Program is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering opportunities for students, scholars, and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide.

Miriam Berger, a College of Social Studies major, will begin her year abroad on June 1, as a fellow at the Center for Arabic Studies Abroad (CASA) in Cairo, Egypt. There, she will study Modern Standard Arabic and Colloquial Egyptian. After improving her Arabic and cultural literacy skills, she will begin her Fulbright research on how Egyptian print newspapers have responded to the

Students Inducted into French Honor Society, Pi Delta Phi

This year, 11 seniors were inducted into the French National Honor Society, Pi Delta Phi, on April 18. The students were recognized for their outstanding scholarship in the French language and literature. Pictured, from left to right, are inductees Rachel Tretter, Carina Kaufman, Sarah La Rue, Emma Mohney, Kelvin Kofie, Rachel Silton, Meera Suresh, Hahn Le, Alexandra Kinney.

Catherine Poisson, associate professor of romance languages and literatures, led the initiation ceremony. The society seeks to increase Americans' knowledge and appreciation of the cultural contributions of French-speaking countries, and to stimulate and encourage French and francophone cultural activities.

Rachel Tretter , in the foreground, signs the Pi Delta Phi book, making her membership official, while Poisson watches on.

Carina Kaufman, Sarah La Rue, Emma Mohney recite a pledge in French. Members of the society pledge to continue to promote and celebrate the French language and the Francophone culture throughout their life.

In foreground, Alexandra Kinney, and behind, from left, Rachel Silton, Meera Suresh and Hahn Le recite the pledge. (Photos by Charlotte Christopher '12)

English, American Studies Major Ross ’12 Participates in A Cappella Group, Equestrian Team

Grace Ross ’12.

Q&As with outstanding students is an occasional feature of The Wesleyan Connection. This issue we speak with Grace Ross from the Class of 2012.

Q: Grace, you’ll be graduating this May with a double major in English and American Studies. Why did you choose to major in those areas?

A: It was the American Literature survey course I took with Joel Pfister my freshman fall that drew me to English and American Studies. We read Mary Rowlandson’s Indian captivity narrative. Professor Pfister essentially summarized what I had been attempting to argue in A.P. U.S. History and offered analysis far beyond the scope of my high school research paper. I knew then that I wanted to major in both.

Q: You recently attended the Center for America’s Americas Forum on April 20, which focused on “Authenticity in the Americas: Constructions and Contestations of Identity.” (View photos of the event online here). Can you elaborate on what was discussed in this four-hour event?

A: The panel was structured around “authenticity” and how it functions within identity formation, nation building, and oppressive systems in North and South America. The panel was composed of six authors we had read throughout the semester: Daphne Brooks, Rebecca Earle, Ben Irvin, Jeff Pilcher, Scott Lyons and Florence Babb. Our Wesleyan professors (and postdoctoral fellows) Amelia Kiddle and Christian Gonzales, spearheaded the effort to find authors who could participate and mediated the event. It was primarily targeted toward the students, although many faculty were present. I was most excited to talk with Daphne Brooks, as she provided a key perspective in my thesis and I was most familiar with her work. She also teaches English and African-American studies at Princeton.

Q: In 2010, you spent your summer working at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. collecting, documenting, and transcribing surveys and managing all the archival material. Is this something you’d like to do more of?

A: 
Getting to know the Library of Congress was a rewarding experience and showed me a side of D.C. that I wouldn’t otherwise have been exposed to. It’s been illuminating to delve into the topic of ethical codes in human subject research. But, I’m really an extrovert. As much as I love working with archival material, I don’t see myself spending too much time in an archive, unless it’s research for a graduate thesis or maybe even a book way down the road.

Q: Tell us more about the student-run a cappella group, the Mixolydians.

A:
 The Mixolydians is an ensemble group that performs choral music. Our final concert this spring includes pieces in French, Russian, English and Latin ranging from the past 300 years.

Q: What other organizations, services or clubs did you take part in during your four years at Wesleyan?

A: 
I rode on the Equestrian Team for three years, which provided a good excuse to get off campus every week and to be around horses. Right now, I’m volunteering for Julia Star, a program that sends Wesleyan students to talk with fifth graders about stereotypes and difference. I also served as a member of the English Department Majors Committee, promoting the major to pre-frosh and underclassmen.

Q: What are you going to miss most about Wesleyan, and what are your post-Wesleyan plans?

A:
 I think I’m going to miss the people here most. Everyone you meet on this campus has a passion and has something to offer the world. Ultimately, the late night conversations, unexpected interactions, and multitude of events, performances, and shows will make me most nostalgic. After completing my thesis, I decided to take this summer off and travel around the world. Beyond that, I plan to move to New York in September with my sights set on the publishing industry.

Lana ’12, Spates ’12 Receive Baden-Württemberg Award to Study in Germany

Lana Lana ’12 and Jessica Spates ’12 received a Baden-Württemberg–Connecticut Exchange Grant for a one-year study in Germany.

The Baden-Württemberg Exchange Program offers students an opportunity to earn college credits in one of Germany’s top nine universities. Students spend the academic year at the university they choose.

The Baden-Württemberg Exchange originated from a legislative partnership formed between the State of Connecticut and the German state of Baden-Württemberg in 1989. The agreement invites all students enrolled in four-year colleges and universities in Connecticut to study at any institution of higher learning in Baden-Württemberg. With nine universities from which to choose and a large number of Fachhochschulen (advanced technical colleges) and Kunsthochschulen (art colleges), students of all disciplines can be accommodated.

The Baden-Württemberg Exchange is a reciprocal exchange program. This means that Connecticut students prepay their usual tuition and then trade places with a German student from the Exchange, who has paid their German tuition.

Tratner ’12 to Study Educational Alternatives as Thomas Watson Fellow

Cara Tratner ’12 plays guitar in Algorrobo, Chile, where she studied abroad. Tratner, a sociology major, will travel to Peru, Guatemala, Ghana, Uganda and India as a 2012-13 Thomas J. Watson Fellow.

Cara Tratner ’12 grew up in the dorms of Stanford University where her dad taught English. Immersed in academia from the start, she did not begin to question her educational privilege until her freshman year at Wesleyan.

“As I became aware of the unequal patterns of access to education in the U.S.,” Tratner comments, “I looked back at my own schooling in a different light, starting to think critically about the level of segregation even in my own ‘good’ high school, and the way in which my success as a student was to a certain extent dependent on the failure of so many others.”

After this realization, Tratner began exploring alternative models of education and working with educational organizations seeking to reach those excluded from the type of education she grew up with. She taught in diverse settings ranging from Philadelphia public middle schools to Argentinian high schools to Connecticut prisons.

Yet Tratner shares that her experience in these teaching positions only complicated her understanding, leaving her wondering how and when educational structures actually benefit the communities they serve. “In my teaching experience I struggled to determine whether alternative educational practices were truly built out of the needs of those communities, or whether they functioned more to integrate individuals into a standardized educational paradigm,” she says.

As a 2012-13 Thomas J. Watson Fellow, sociology major Tratner will explore the topic “Overcoming Exclusion: Community-Based Educational Alternatives” in a year-long “wanderjahr.” Tratner is one of only 40 Watson Fellows selected to follow her passion in a self-designed project in countries outside the U.S. The fellowship comes with a $25,000 stipend. “The Watson is a way for me to learn about the work of educators who aim to empower marginalized communities to construct their own education,” she says.

Tratner will begin her wanderjahr in Peru, where 70 percent of Peruvian children who live isolated in Andean mountain communities do not complete more than five years of school. She’ll also explore and compare the work of educators in Guatemala, Ghana, Uganda and India who are developing culturally-relevant education programs for communities that have been left out of the formal education system.

Tratner will examine how cultural context influences the pedagogical methods of the educational response in each region. She’ll explore the diverse ways educators around the world are seeking to solve the problem of educational exclusion.

“The wanderjahr is a perfect opportunity for me to see first-hand the incredible variety of innovative initiatives around the world aiming to create a culturally-relevant education,” she says. “If I can discover how educators are able to empower entire communities to construct their own model of education, I hope that I too will be able to locate myself within a global educational community and work to construct my own path as I step forward into the world of education.”

Video Feature on Wesleyan Students Addressing Global Issues

Rachel Levenson ’12, saw a need for an elevated, intellectual based conversation on how to evaluate programs, scale up effective programs, and allocate funds in a way that will have the biggest positive impact. Levenson designed The Forum For International Development to create a space at Wesleyan for that discussion so people could learn from each other as well as from speakers that Wesleyan Students brought in from all over the country.

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