Tag Archive for Class of 2019

Wilson ’18 Wins Fundraising Competition at Clinton Global Initiative University Conference

Siri McGuire '17, Taiga Araki ’17, Alvin Chitena ’19, AJ Wilson ’18, Makaela Kingsley '98 (director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship) and Ferdinand Quayson ’20 attended the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Conference in Boston.

Siri McGuire ’17, Taiga Araki ’17, Alvin Chitena ’19, AJ Wilson ’18, Makaela Kingsley ’98 (director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship) and Ferdinand Quayson ’20 gathered for a group photo prior to the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Conference in Boston.

Dreams are coming true for AJ Wilson ’18, founder of the non-profit organization Dream Chasers.

During the 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Conference in Boston Oct. 13-15, Dream Chasers won a Crowdrise fundraising competition and set the record for most money raised ($18,025) by any single group. For his efforts, Wilson was congratulated by Chelsea Clinton, Congressman Joe Kennedy III and former president Bill Clinton.

AJ Wilson '18 was honored by Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, during the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference on Oct. 14. (Photo by Diana Levine/Clinton Foundation)

AJ Wilson ’18 was honored by Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, during the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference on Oct. 14. (Photo by Diana Levine/Clinton Foundation)

Wilson, who grew up in Kennesaw, Georgia, created Dream Chasers to close the academic and opportunity gaps in the South and Midwest through a collection of different programs and initiatives. In five years, the team has impacted the lives of more than 5,300 students and helped students earn $1.4 million in scholarships.

Dream Chasers wasn’t the only Wesleyan student-created organization represented—and invited to—CGI U. Attendee Alvin Chitena ’19 spoke about his organization, ZimCode, which provides Zimbabwean youth with free access to resources they need—computers, internet access and instruction—to learn computer programming and how to apply their new skills in their community.

Ferdinand Quayson ’20, founder of Young Achievers Foundation Ghana, created the organization to provide disadvantaged students in Northern Ghana access to higher education through scholarship workshops and innovative in-school mentorship programs.

Alumnae Collaborate on Play that Debuts Aug. 10 in NYC

Five alumnae and one student are collaborating on a play that will debut Aug. 10-13 in New York City.

Resistance, written by May Treuhaft-Ali ’17 and directed by Maia Nelles-Sager ’17, is about Libby, a 15-year-old girl from Queens struggling with her weight. Everyone in her life from her mother to her “specialist” is trying to help her lose weight, but none of them seem to understand the underlying issue. When her favorite spin teacher is fired, Libby discovers that violent revenge fantasies makes her feel better. But every time she has a violent revenge fantasy, she gains 16 pounds.

“Resistance touches on themes such as weight-loss culture, female relationships, and gentrification. The cast is entirely female-identifying, as is the production team,” said Nelles-Sager, a film and theater double major.

Nelles-Sager and Treuhaft-Ali are assisted by set designer Nola Werlinich ’17; properties designer and assistant set designer Jess Cummings ’17; graphic designer Caitlin Chan ’17; and sound designer Hope Fourie ’19. At Wesleyan, Nelles-Sager directed four shows with Second Stage and wrote a playwriting thesis; Treuhaft-Ali completed a directing thesis with the Theater Department.

Resistance will be performed at the Wild Project, a theater, film, music, and visual arts venue in New York’s East Village. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. Aug. 10-12 and at 2 p.m. Aug. 12-13. Tickets are available for purchase online.

Biology Team Samples Drought-Tolerant Bacteria in Death Valley

Nicole DelGaudio ’18 samples the rhizospheres of a juniper tree at about 7,000 feet above sea level.

Nicole DelGaudio ’18 samples the rhizosphere of a juniper tree.

This spring, a research team from Wesleyan traveled to Death Valley National Park to explore the ways bacteria diversifies in extreme environments.

Death Valley, located about 130 miles west of Las Vegas, is a below-sea-level basin known for being the hottest place on earth and driest place in North America. The average rainfall is less than 2 inches, annually.

“National parks are ideal for research, in general, because the land is protected indefinitely from commercial development,” said team leader Fred Cohan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies. “Death Valley is a nice model system for exobiology because of its extreme habitat.”

Cohan, along with graduate student Jerry Lee, Bella Wiener ’19 and Nicole DelGaudio ’18, traveled to California May 29 through June 4. During this time, the researchers trekked through miles of parched — and often prickly — landscapes seeking to sample root soil, or rhizosphere, from various plant species, each over a wide range of elevations that differ notably in their temperatures.

Brown ’19 to Address Gender Inequality as Davis Projects for Peace Grant Recipient

Jamaica native Shantelle Brown ’19 is the recipient of a Davis Projects for Peace grant. She will return to Jamaica this summer to help 24 high schoolers become "truly aware of their power as change makers, proud of their individuality, and believe that their dreams are attainable." (Photo by Olivia Drake) 

Jamaica native Shantelle Brown ’19 is the recipient of a Davis Projects for Peace grant. She will return to Jamaica this summer to help 24 high schoolers become “truly aware of their power as change makers, proud of their individuality, and believe that their dreams are attainable.” (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Shantelle Brown ’19 has been awarded a Davis Projects for Peace grant for her summer project, Sisters for Empowerment & Equality (SEE), which aims to address gender inequality in Jamaican culture through an art-based mentorship program for girls age 13 to 16.

Brown’s project is one of 120 initiatives selected for a Davis Projects for Peace grant, each receiving $10,000 for implementation during the summer of 2017. In 2007, Projects for Peace was the vision of philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis on the occasion of her 100th birthday to motivate tomorrow’s promising leaders by challenging them to find ways to “prepare for peace.” More information is available here.

SEE is geared toward the creation of a supportive community that will encourage girls from low-income or rural communities (where gender discrimination and violence are most prevalent) to pursue their dreams. SEE will take the form of high school societies, monitored and maintained by mentors as well as school administrators, in which students will pursue art-based projects that promote a positive relationship with the community.

“We hope to challenge gender stereotypes and create a platform from which girls can shine, through: mentorship, creative expression, and community outreach,” states the project proposal.

Students Attend Discussion on Racism, Sexism, Bigotry in NYC

At left, Sara Feldman '17, Gabe Hurlock '20, Kaiyana Makami '19, Angela Davis and Claudia Khahindi '19 gather at the "We're Not Going Back" Unity Rally in New York City on March 4. 

At left, Sara Feldman ’17, Gabe Hurlock ’20, Kaiyana Makami ’19, Angela Davis and Claudia Khahindi ’19 gather at the “We’re Not Going Back” Unity Rally and discussion in New York City on March 4.

On March 4, members of the student activist organization Sophia traveled to New York City to attend the Community Party USA Unity Rally and discussion against racism, sexism and all forms of bigotry with special guest and keynote speaker Angela Davis.

Angela Davis speaks at the Unity Rally. (Photo by Gabe Hurlock '20)

Angela Davis speaks at the Unity Rally. (Photo by Gabe Hurlock ’20)

Inspired by the rising necessity for constructive solidarity and community, Sophia founder and president, Posse veteran scholar Gabe Hurlock ’20 created the organization to promote inclusion, multiculturalism, and personhood on the Wesleyan campus and in the Middletown community. The organization focuses on critical philosophy and conceptualization of social justice issues through community organization.

The rally featured Jamaican author and poet Staceyann Chin and political activist Angela Davis as the keynote speaker. Davis is known internationally for her ongoing work to combat all forms of oppression in the U.S. and abroad. She is a founding member of Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. The main topic of the evening was cultivating unity and winning a wide-ranging program of reforms that put the well being of people and the planet before private profits.

“I intended for this trip to demonstrate that the act of solidarity requires more than simply being intellectually aware of the disparities plaguing our society, because activism is central to philosophy,” Hurlock said. “After meeting Angela Davis, we all gained a refreshed perspective on what it really means to fight for what you believe in. The prosperity of humanity depends heavily on our capacity to speak up and defend justice everywhere.”

The trip was sponsored by Wesleyan’s Office for Equity and Inclusion and the Student Budget Committee.

Levin ’19 Interviews Entertainment Professionals for Master Chat Mag

Hannah Levin ’19 (photo by Olivia Drake).

Hannah Levin ’19. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Hannah Levin ’19 is passionate about film, television, theater and comedy. Since early high school, she has run a website for other young aspiring entertainment professionals featuring interviews with many top actors, directors and others about their careers.

Q: Where are you from, and what are you studying at Wesleyan?

A: I’m from Westport, Conn. I’m planning to declare a double major in film and English.

Q: You launched your website, Master Chat Mag, when you were only 15-years-old. Please tell us about your site and what inspired you to start it.

A: When I was a freshman in high school, I was always Googling for advice for aspiring actors from people whose work I loved. I couldn’t find anything like that. There was Inside the Actors Studio, but it came out infrequently and I craved more information to satisfy my interest. I decided to fill that gap in Google and start my own site as a resource for students who are passionate about TV, film, theater and comedy. Around the same time, I saw The Book of Mormon on Broadway and was so inspired by it, I wanted to talk to the creators and cast about how they made it.

Four Students Awarded NASA Connecticut Space Grants

Grant recipient Rami Hamati '19, left, at a workshop sponsored last summer by the CT Space Grant on helicopters and other small aircraft.

Grant recipient Rami Hamati ’19, left, is pictured at a workshop sponsored last summer by the Connecticut Space Grant on helicopters and other small aircraft.

Four Wesleyan undergraduate students have received grants from NASA’s Connecticut Space Grant Consortium.

Astronomy major Hannah Fritze ’18 was awarded $5,000 for an Undergraduate Research Fellowship Grant titled, “Searching for Intermediate Mass Black Holes in Ultraluminous X-ray Binaries.” This grant will support her research this coming semester on black holes with Roy Kilgard, support astronomer and research associate professor of astronomy.

Avi Stein ’17, who is majoring in astronomy, was awarded $1,000 for a Student Travel Grant. He will be presenting his research on Venus—conducted with Martha Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, professor of earth and environmental sciences—at the 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in March.

Rami Hamati ’19 and David Machado ’18 each received a $5,000 undergraduate scholarship. According to Seth Redfield, associate professor of astronomy, associate professor of integrative sciences, these scholarships are awarded to students who show promise as a major in a STEM field related to NASA’s mission.

Read about past recipients of Connecticut Space Grants here and here.

Chemistry, Physics Students Attend Biomedical Research Conference

Contributed photo

From Nov. 9-12, two faculty members and five students from the physics and chemistry departments, attended the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Tampa, Fla.

Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics, and Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry, were joined by McNair Scholars Luz Mendez ’17, Tatianna Pryce ’17, Stacy Uchendu ’17 and Hanna Morales ’17; and Wesleyan Mathematics and Science (WesMaSS) Scholar Helen Karimi ’19.

Students observed other research being performed around the nation by students who are members of underrepresented groups in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In addition, the Wesleyan students presented their own research and Morales and Karimi were awarded Outstanding Poster Presentation Awards.

“Through the PIE Initiative, Wesleyan has a deliberate strategy to support underrepresented students and faculty in STEM fields by providing resources that increasing post-Wesleyan mentorship and exposure to research excellence, all of which were fulfilled through this conference,” said Antonio Farias, vice president for equity and inclusion/Title IX officer. “It cannot go without saying that without Professor Taylor’s and Professor Etson’s holistic mentorship approach, these type of opportunities for our young scholars would not be possible.”

Levin ’19 Interviews Actor Cambor ’01 of Showtime’s Roadies

Peter Cambor '01 (Photo by Coco Knudson)

Peter Cambor ’01. (Photo by Coco Knudson)

Hannah Levin ’19 recently interviewed Peter Cambor ’01, an actor on Showtime’s Roadies, about his career and his time at Wesleyan. The interview appears on Master Chat Mag, a website Levin has been running since her sophomore year of high school, which serves as a resource for students who are passionate about TV, film, theater and comedy and wish to work in the field one day.

Cambor has starred in television series including Notes from the Underbelly and NCIS: Los Angeles. In the interview with Levin, he talks about catching the acting bug in high school, and about how his time at Wesleyan fueled his creativity:

I guess that the best thing for me was the faculty at the time was great, Bill Francisco was a great teacher who has since retired. A litany of great actors had come out of Wesleyan before my going there, like Bradley Whitford and Frank Wood. The ’92 Theater [Wesleyan’s student theater] had a play going on every weekend. Some of the plays were quite good, including In the Heights, as you know. There were things like that going on all the time.

There are two sides to working as an actor professionally. There’s the creative side where you’re making all the fun stuff, making theater, which is great. But you also have to have a business acumen. Just like in any other business you have to know how to work on a team, how to work with other people, what’s realistic under great constraints and how you can find freedom within those constraints. You’re forced to creatively think your way out of problems. I think that little microcosm of the ’92 Theater really taught me that thing. People took big swings and sometimes things were great, sometimes things were awful. But there were always big, bold swings. Learning how to work together, fail together, succeed together was great.

I was also working with a great group of people. I was good friends with Thomas Kail (’99) who directed Hamilton, Lin-Manuel [Miranda] (’02) and I were in a play together, I did a film with one of the executive producers for Brooklyn-Nine-Nine. There’s just so many more: Zack Whedon, Joss Whedon’s younger brother. All those guys were there. That’s a pretty hefty group of people to be working with, which of course I didn’t realize at the time.

Read the full interview here.

Women’s Tennis, Crew Teams Qualify for NCAA Championships

Aashli Budhiraja ’18

Aashli Budhiraja ’18

The Wesleyan women’s tennis and women’s crew teams both qualified for the NCAA Championships this week. Women’s tennis, ranked No. 8 in the ITA national rankings, returns to the postseason tournament for the first time since the 2000-01 season, and only the second time in program history. The Cardinals earned a first round bye after posting an 11-5 overall record, and will face the winner of No. 14 Mary Washington and Simmons on May 14 at 11 a.m. on the campus of Amherst College, the regional host. If Wesleyan wins, it would advance to play either No. 7 Amherst, SUNY Geneseo or Ithaca in the third round May 15 at noon.

Women’s tennis is riding a historic season, in which the Cardinals won their first-ever NESCAC Tournament match. Wesleyan, seeded No. 5, defeated the No. 4 seed and sixth-ranked Bowdoin 5-1 to advance to the semifinals. The Cardinals are led by reigning Individual Singles National Champion Eudice Chong ’18, and enter postseason play having won seven of their last eight matches.

In addition to the women’s team qualifying for the team championships, Chong and Aashli Budhiraja ’18 also qualified for the NCAA Individual Championships, while Victoria Yu ’19 was selected as a singles alternate. Additionally, Steven Chen ’18 of the 11th-ranked men’s tennis team qualified in singles play on the men’s side and Michael Liu ’17 was selected as an alternate. Chen and Liu were instrumental in Wesleyan’s success this season, which saw the team win its first-ever NESCAC Tournament match when it defeated Tufts, 5-3, to advance to the semifinals. The Cardinals narrowly missed out on an at-large bid to the team championships and finished the season with a 13-6 record.

Women’s crew, ranked No. 3 in the country, earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Women’s Rowing Championships and will bring its Varsity 8 boat, comprised of Ava Miller-Lewis ’17, Remy Johnson ’16, Annalee Holmdahl ’17, Emma Koramshahi ’16, Ricky Flowers ’19, Emma Halter ’17, Annie Dade ’16, Amanda Molitor ’18 and coxswain Elissa Greenberg ’18. The Cardinals are making their second appearance in the postseason tournament, and first since 2014. Six teams qualified for the championships, while two at-large Eights were also selected. The championship regatta will take place May 27-28 at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center in Gold River, Calif. Wesleyan finished second overall at the New England Championships and third at the National Invitational Rowing Championships.

* Update 5/16/2016
The eighth-ranked women’s tennis team played No. 14 Mary Washington in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and defeated the Eagles decisively, 5-0. Advancing to the ‘Sweet 16′ on Sunday, Wesleyan faced No. 7 Amherst College on the Little Three rivals’ home court. The Cardinals came up short, as they were defeated 5-2. Wesleyan’s historic season came to an end as it finished the year with a 12-6 record.

Women's Crew.

Women’s Crew.

Fox ’19 Writes on Wesleyan’s Jewish Community, Campus Political Climate

Anna Fox ’19 wrote an essay in The Forward about Wesleyan’s Jewish community and the campus political climate surrounding the Israel Palestinian conflict. Though, as a Zionist, she was anxious about coming to a campus with a pro-Palestine reputation, she was met with a pluralistic community, “diverse opinions” and “students exchanging ideas thoughtfully—though rarely in agreement—and leaving the conversations with respect, compassion and nuanced approaches to their ideas.”

She writes:

The passion I see in my peers who engage with Israeli-Palestinian politics, regardless of their political affiliations, gives me so much hope about the future of the Holy Land. My voice is not just heard, but valued. My views have been challenged, certainly, and I often leave conversations grappling with the questions they provoked, but I am always met with compassion.

And this campus makes me feel closer to Israel. My community’s plurality doesn’t alienate me, but pushes me to think deeply about the conflict. When the Bayit embraces students with diverse political opinions, and when we have the opportunity to engage with the issues that we feel so deeply and passionately about, my peers and I are able to develop our opinions in an informed and responsible way. […] The openness of dialogue in this campus’s Jewish community never allows us to be blindly opinionated, or to trust that we are always right. Rather, we are constantly assessing the subtleties of our opinions, strengthening and shifting them as we continue to learn more about the world around us.

Fox concludes:

It’s tempting for adults to dismiss college students as starry-eyed idealists. But as young people, we know that at the end of the day, we have the potential to make the world a better place. When we have the spaces to explore this potentiality fully, we bring a new vitality to the conversation. We engage with one another, and we challenge both our peers’ beliefs and our own. We grow as Jews and as people. Jewish communal leaders looking to understand our generation ought to listen to us.