Arpita Vora ’16 clicks through a website that seeks to raise awareness about the hardships faced by low-income families in North Carolina. Middlesex United Way, the organization at which Vora was placed through the Center for Community Partnerships’ yearlong pilot Nonprofit Board Residency Program, is hoping to create a similar site using data from Connecticut.
Tag Archive for Class of 2016
by Olivia Drake •
by Laurie Kenney •
Wesleyan Earth and Environmental Sciences students and faculty attended and contributed to this year’s Geological Society of America (GSA) Annual Meeting, held Nov. 1–4 in Baltimore, Md.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
The world is currently facing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Concerned Wesleyan students are volunteering with community organizations, coordinating various speaker panels, fundraising for international NGOs and agencies, and engaging in advocacy efforts.
This fall, Casey Smith ’17 and Cole Phillips ’16 founded the Wesleyan Refugee Project (WRP). Smith, a College of Social Studies major who is pursuing certificates in Middle Eastern studies and international relations, has worked with refugees since high school, advocated for refugees’ rights in Washington, D.C., and volunteered for refugee resettlement organizations. She is currently studying abroad in Jordan, where she helps refugees access legal services with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and teaches yoga at the Collateral Repair Project (CRP). Phillips is a government major pursuing certificates in Middle Eastern studies and international relations. While studying abroad in Jordan, he worked for CRP, an NGO that provides aid to Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Phillips then returned to Jordan in August via a Davenport grant to conduct research for his thesis, and grew close with a Syrian refugee with whom he worked as an interpreter. These experiences inspired Smith and Phillips to engage the Wesleyan community in refugee aid work.
“More broadly, we also wanted to start conversations and bring awareness about refugee issues to campus,” said Smith.
Currently, there are 34 Wesleyan students volunteering through WRP, and many more have expressed interest. Every week, student volunteers work with three different organizations: Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS), helping refugees apply for housing and energy subsidy programs; the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), working on refugees’ resettlement applications; and Paper Airplanes, tutoring Syrian refugees in English.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
The basement of the University Organizing Center at 190 High Street is now home to Red Feather Studios, Wesleyan’s first and only student-run recording studio.
Red Feather officially opened in spring 2015 after being a work in progress for a few years.
“The music culture at Wesleyan is unlike any I’ve seen at other universities,” added Oscar Parajon ’16, a founding member and head studio manager at Red Feather, who is majoring in American Studies. “Before Red Feather Studios, what was happening was a plethora of ‘bedroom producers’ throughout campus that did not have a platform to make their art.”
According to Parajon, the studio’s name comes from the Wesleyan cardinal mascot, “and the idea that its red feathers have the potential to lift the cardinal to extraordinary heights.”
“I think the need for Red Feather stemmed from a discrepancy between Wesleyan students’ creative output and our collective access to creative resources on campus,” said Derrick Holman ’16, another founding member and head of external affairs. While other colleges and universities have student-run studios, Holman said that Red Feather is unique in being a completely student-run venture, with everything from the idea to the funding to the construction to the day-to-day operations under student control.
“In my personal experience, I have found that there is so much value in creative freedom and—unlike any other musical space on campus—Red Feather provides its leadership and users with the ability to experiment in an unconstrained manner, not only musically, but also with the process of developing and managing a creative space,” Holman, a sociology major, said.
In its first semester of operation, the studio was booked for upwards of 175 sessions, during which artists, bands and performers logged more than 500 hours of recording, production and musical output, according to Holman.
“So far the response has been amazing,” he added. “To date, we have been responsible for the production of multiple EPs and dozens of songs, and even have a member whose self-produced album is now available for purchase on iTunes that was completed almost entirely in our facilities.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Two members of the Wesleyan community participated in a discussion on WNPR’s Where We Live focused on “Confronting Social Injustice.”
Bashaun Brown, a former student at Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education who spent more than six years incarcerated at Cheshire Correctional Institution, is now pursuing an entrepreneurial venture called TRAP House.
“All prison experience is pretty bad, but thanks to Wesleyan, I was able to transform my prison space. My prison experience was one of educating myself, and trying to get better and make sure I never make the types of mistakes that I made to get into that situation in the first place. Wesleyan Center for Prison Education allowed me to imagine I was in a college setting throughout four years of my prison sentence,” he said.
There are not many programs available to help inmates work through the issues that got them incarcerated, Brown explained, and the time is wasted for many people. People who run prisons are primarily concerned with safety and security.
“In reality, if you really want to change the people in prison, you focus more on bringing more programming to prison. I think everybody should be able to get the opportunity that I had to take part in a quality, in this case liberal arts, education. If anyone wants to make the case for liberal arts, it should be in the prison,” he said. “Getting a liberal arts education allowed me to really evaluate where I’m at politically, socially, economically on the spectrum. Exactly where do I stand as a black man in America, now as a felon in America? How did we get here, and what can I do to change the situation? There’s something valuable to learning psychology, literature, and mixing and matching all types of education to custom make your experience.”
Later in the show, Hannah Sokoloff-Rubin ’16 discussed the Wesleyan Doula Project, a social entrepreneurship venture that she co-leads.
“The Wesleyan Doula Project is an organization that trains students and a few community members to work as non-medical support people for women receiving abortions,” she explained. There’s a common misperception that doulas only support women going through birth, but the Wesleyan Doula Project is part of a new movement to support women across the “full spectrum” of pregnancy outcomes, from miscarriage to stillbirth to adoption.
“One of the reasons I’ve devoted all of my time as a student to this project is become I think it both hits a level of social justice that’s really important…and helps fix a broken healthcare system, especially around reproductive healthcare, in that we have a problem where the care that is being provided really isn’t meeting the needs of the people who are receiving it.” The Wesleyan Doula Project helps to increase patient safety, open lines of communication, and make the process go more smoothly, she said.
by Olivia Drake •
On Nov. 6, four Wesleyan seniors spoke to members of the Wesleyan community about their thesis topics and research. The event, “Celebrating Seniors: Research Excellence at Wesleyan and Abroad” took place in Judd Hall, and was moderated by the Class of 2016 Dean David Phillips.
The student presenters were Tahreem Khalied ’16, Claire Wright ’16, Simon Chen ’16 and Kate Cullen ’16, and their projects varied widely. (Story by Margaret Curtis ’16, photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, assistant professor of integrated sciences, is the co-author of a new study, “Rhythmic Effects of Syntax Processing in Music and Language” published in Frontiers in Psychology in November. The article’s lead author is Harim Jung ’16, and it is also co-authored by Samuel Sontag ’14 and YeBin “Shiny” Park ’15.
According to Loui, the paper grew out of her Advanced Research Methods in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience course, and is the precursor to Jung’s senior and master’s theses. The study uses a behavioral test to look into how music and language—two universal human functions—may overlap in their use of brain resources. The researchers show that perturbations in rhythm take up sufficient attentional resources to interfere with how people read and understand a sentence. The results support the view that rhythm, music, and language are not limited to their separate processing in the auditory circuits; instead, their structure creates expectations about tempo, harmony, and sentence meaning that interfere with each other in other sensory systems, such as vision, and in higher levels of cognitive processing.
“We think that the role of rhythm in this sharing of brain resources dedicated to music and language is an important finding because it could help people who use music as a therapy to help their language functions,” explained Loui. “For example, people who have aphasia (loss of language) due to stroke are sometimes able to sing, a fascinating paradox that led to the development of Melodic Intonation Therapy—a singing therapy designed to help aphasics recover their language functions. Rhythm is important for this therapy, but its precise role is unclear. By studying how rhythm guides the way the brain shares its processing between music and language, we might be better able to target Melodic Intonation Therapy in the future.”
by Olivia Drake •
From Nov. 4-7, Gabriel Lipton Galbraith ’16 participated in the 67th annual Student Conference on United States Affairs (SCUSA) at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
The conference, titled “Confronting Inequality: Wealth, Rights and Power” brought together students, scholars and members of the military to talk about pressing challenges currently facing U.S. policy makers.
Student delegates were split into roundtables to discuss specific topics touching on this broader theme. Lipton Galbraith’s roundtable focused on international trade and inequality. Over the four day conference they authored a position paper focusing on the possible consequences of the recently signed Transpacific Partnership (TPP) on inequality.
Lipton Galbraith, who is majoring in government and minoring in economics, is interested in international relations, international economics and law. He’s currently writing a senior thesis on government surveillance policy in North America and Western Europe.
“The SCUSA conference definitely enabled me to explore my academic interests, as well as get a sense of the various avenues of public service that are available to new graduates,” he said.
In addition to the time spent in the roundtable discussion, Lipton Galbraith attended a number of talks from subject matter experts on the implications of inequality in the 21st century. The opening panel discussion brought together policymakers from the military, U.S. AID, the U.N. Population Fund (UNPFA), among others. Former United States Secretary of State Madeline Albright delivered the keynote address.
Lipton Galbraith also spoke with representatives working at the State Department, major human rights organizations, and numerous think tanks.
“All in all, the conference was a wonderful opportunity to converse with scholars of all sorts and to better understand the goals of the military.”
by Hannah Norman '16 •
In this Q&A, we speak with Deren Ertas from the Class of 2016.
Q: Deren, what are you majoring in?
A: I’m majoring in the College of Social Studies. I’m also getting the Social, Cultural and Critical Theory Certificate.
Q: You received a Davenport Grant to do research for your senior honors thesis. Could you tell us a little about the grant?
A: Yes, the Davenport Grant is a nifty $3,000 grant that the Public Affairs Center awards to a number of students who want to pursue research that might require them to travel. You apply with a research prospectus and a budget proposal. I’m writing a political theory thesis that engages with the city from the perspectives of neoliberalism, resistance and democracy. My argument is that we can arrive at a radical pluralist democracy by resisting the conditions created by the neoliberalization of cities, or something to that effect. I am using the Gezi Protests (2013) in Istanbul as my case study.
Q: Where did you conduct your field research?
A: With the Davenport Grant, I was able to spend a month in Istanbul.
by Hannah Norman '16 •
Chloe Nash ‘16, a double major in biology and environmental studies, contributed to groundbreaking research on the mysterious Flatback sea turtle — a species with only two photographs in the wild, both of the same individual turtle. While studying abroad in Australia last spring, Nash volunteered at James Cook University for a project that involved raising 30 flatbacks from hatchlings and attaching GPS devices to their shells.
The turtles were released in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and seven are being tracked by satellite. This research is the first time Flatbacks, only found in Australia, have been monitored underwater.
“I was with them everyday essentially for four months, so they became like my children,” Nash said.
Nash worked as a volunteer, feeding them and cleaning their tanks. Over time, she learned to give them medication and teach them how to dive, which involved luring the turtles down with a food-carrying stick. Once the turtles reached 300 grams, they were strong enough to hold the satellite tags. The research sought to learn more about the Flatbacks’ lives in between hatching and nesting adults— a blank space in the marine biology field.
“One of my favorites named Ali got ill, and we thought he was going to pass away,” Nash said. “But we persevered and he persevered and I ended up getting to release him, which was really great. It was really crazy, just watching him grow.”
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Phoebe Keegan ’16, an economics major from Palisades, N.Y., has been passionate about real estate since she was a young child. She passed the exam to get her real estate license in New York at age 18, the youngest age allowed. After coming to Wesleyan, she also became a licensed agent at William Raveis in Middletown.
This summer, Keegan worked at the Quantitative Analysis Center with Assistant Professor of Economics Karl Boulware to analyze data from the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey, specifically looking at conditions before and after the rezoning of downtown Brooklyn. They are studying how rezoning affected occupancies in Brooklyn as well as gentrification issues.
“I am really thankful that I came here because I didn’t know how much of an incredible place it was,” said Keegan. “The community is truly special.”