Tag Archive for Class of 2020

Scholar-Athletes, Seniors Honored for 2019–20 Accomplishments

On May 21, the Wesleyan University Athletic Department hosted a virtual event to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of scholar-athletes. The ceremony combined the annual Scholar-Athlete Banquet with the end-of-the-year Senior Awards presentations.

Maynard awardIt was hosted by Director of Athletics Mike Whalen ’83 and featured remarks from President Michael Roth ’78. Several coaches presented individual awards to the student-athletes.

Hockey goalie Tim Sestak ’20 and women’s soccer defender Mackenzie Mitchell ’20 were the recipients of the Roger Maynard Memorial Awards, which are presented annually to the Wesleyan male and female scholar-athlete who best exemplifies the spirit, accomplishments, and humility of Roger Maynard ’37 (established by the family of Roger Maynard, a former Wesleyan trustee who lettered in cross-country and track.)

In addition to winning the prestigious Maynard Awards, Sestak and Mitchell were also chosen by the Department as the two scholar-athlete speakers, an annual tradition of the Scholar-Athlete Banquet.

Wesleyan Hosts 188th (and First Virtual) Commencement


On Sunday, May 24, for the first time in its history, Wesleyan University held its Commencement virtually, awarding 771 Bachelor of Arts, 3 Bachelor of Liberal Studies, 4 Bachelor of Arts on completion, 36 Master of Arts, 19 Master of Liberal Studies, 1 Master of Philosophy, and 10 Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

Streamed on both the Wesleyan website (on the Commencement 2020 page) and on the Wesleyan University Facebook page, the ceremony—the University’s 188th—saw more than 3,000 family, friends, faculty, staff, and alumni gather together online for a common moment in celebration of the members of the Class of 2020. Graduates had just completed one of the more unusual and challenging semesters in recent memory as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the University moved to a distance learning model to ensure student and community safety.

President Michael Roth ’78 delivered a live welcome address from the Wesleyan campus.

The virtual proceedings were led by President Michael Roth ’78. In his welcome address, President Roth said, “Class of 2020, we have already seen what you are capable of when you have the freedom and the tools, the mentors and the friendships, the insight and the affection to go beyond what others have defined as your limits.

Students Honored with 2019–20 Prizes, Fellowships, Scholarships

monogramOn May 22, the Office of Student Affairs announced the names of students who received academic or leadership prizes, fellowships, and scholarships in 2019–20.

More than 300 students and recent alumni received one of the University’s 180 prizes. (View the list below or on the Student Affairs website.)

Scholarships, fellowships, and leadership prizes are granted to students and student organizations based on criteria established for each prize or award. Certain University prizes are administered by the Student Affairs/Deans’ Office, while others are administered by the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development (SALD).

Seniors Share Thesis Projects on Wesleyan Instagram

While the Wesleyan community can’t celebrate our seniors’ theses in person this year, several members of the Class of 2020 are sharing their accomplishments on Wesleyan’s Instagram (wesleyan_u).

Any senior who would like to see their thesis spotlighted can fill out this form.

Examples of recent posts are below. Click on the image to open the original post in Instagram. (Project curated by Eitana Friedman-Nathan ’20)

Eliza

Eliza McKenna ’20 (@elizarmckenna) // Woodstock, NY
Film Studies. “‘Brownie’ is a 16mm short film, based on my great grandfather, who was a tailor for the mob in Atlantic City back in the ’40’s, and it follows an awkward Jewish man as he tries to prove his love to the hairdresser next door. When faced with a sensitive mob secret about the murder of another gangster, he must choose between telling the truth or staying silent. I’m planing on submitting this project to film festivals in the future!”

Wei-Ling

Wei-Ling Carrigan ’20 (@weilingcarrigan) // Bordeaux, France. High Honors in Studio Art with a concentration in painting. “In ‘TAKING UP SPACE’ I want to bring a different perspective than is historically given to portraiture, by painting women from the standpoint of a woman, painting women who find authorship within the canvas, who invite the audience to stare at them while they stare back.”

Leo

Leo Merturi ’20 (@leomerturi) // Milford, Conn.
Honors in Music and winner of Gwen Livingston Pokora Prize. Leo describes his thesis, “COPVRIGHTS: An illegal expression of art protected by creative commons” as “an exploration of copyright law as it currently exists and is interpreted in the modern digital age of media and artistic creation. New technologies in audio production and consumption have spawned new approaches to policing creative content. Comparative analysis of digital sonic files, as exhibited by programs like Shazam and YouTube’s Content I.D., ensure that specific creative works in their recorded states are automatically protected on popular media platforms. But, what do these protections imply? Do recording protections introduce “ownership” of sound in physical space? Who can control certain recorded sounds, and why? What is the extent of this control and how does it impact the existences of both creators and consumers?”

Miri

Miriam Zenilman ’20 (@miriamzenilman) // Lawrence, NY
High Honors in the College of Letters. “The College of Letters has a foreign language and study abroad component, so I spent a semester in Jerusalem during my sophomore year, and that’s when I started to develop this idea for my thesis. I’m also pursuing the film studies minor and writing certificate, so completing this screenplay was really the culmination of a number of interests I’ve cultivated at Wesleyan, and through a number of grants from Wesleyan, I was able to spend last summer conducting extensive research in Israel to ensure the narrative’s authenticity. My favorite film genres have always been historical dramas, war films, and coming-of-age films, so I was excited to explore and combine these different genres in my first feature screenplay.”

sivan

Sivan Piatigorsky-Roth ’20 (@soilboyy) // Toronto, Canada
High Honors in English. “I wrote a graphic memoir that was part personal narrative/part history of Jewish self representation and gender representation in comics/part theory. It was a comic, so fully illustrated, and was divided into three sections corresponding to head/torso/limbs, each exploring different related themes in history and in my personal narrative.”

sophie

Sophie Dora Tulchin ’20 // Pleasantville, NY
High Honors in American Studies and recipient of the M.G. White Prize for the best thesis in American Studies.
“I wrote my thesis on trans plaintiffs’ use of the Americans with Disabilities Act in discrimination cases. The ADA actually contains an explicit exclusion related to trans identity, so I focused on the history of this exclusion and how some trans people have successfully evaded it. In short, I explored why some trans people feel their conditions should be understood as disabilities under the ADA, and then shared how this argument has been made in court. I am very grateful for the support of my girlfriend and dog!”

tara

Tara Mitra ’20 (@tara3031) // Bangalore
High Honors in Anthropology. “This thesis examines the ghosts of animal welfare work in India, with a focus on gujarat, to call for solidarity between minoritised groups across species. Through theorizing ghostly absences, I put human and nonhuman oppression in conversation with each other, revealing the biopolitical control of reproductive processes in humans, dogs, and bovines. I grapple with the implications of animal welfare work within a system that uses nonhuman animals as tools in order to oppress other minoritised communities. With attention to the problems of speciesism, nationalism, and reproduction, I explore the relationship between minoritisations that arise from the narrow category of human, implicitly normalized in India as upper-class Hindu, and male. Here, I tread the ambiguous space between binaries in order to affirm new ways of inclusively engaging with welfare work. I use poetry and art in my ethnography ‘(Re)Birthing Ghosts: An Ethnography Toward Solidarity’ to reimagine linearity in academia, allowing readers to internalize the contents through personalized journeys.”

Annie

Annie Ning ’20 (@anniening) // Suzhou, China. High Honors in Film Studies (Digital Film Production). “My thesis is a short film shot on digital. On a visit to her family in America, a grandmother is left to find companionship with a pet fish as she slowly comes to terms with losing her independence.”

Anthony Price thesis

Anthony Price ’20 (@anthonydprice) // Cleveland, Ohio
American Studies. Most Americans never have and will never learn the history of black representation during America’s Reconstruction. Drawing on archival research and analysis of congressional debates and bill introductions, Anthony’s thesis “The Forgotten Founders of America: Investigating Black Members of Congress During Reconstruction” shows how 16 black members of Congress ensured Americans could have a larger voice in their government.

Cantos

Chelsea Cantos ’20 (@chelseancantos) // Los Angeles, Calif.
High Honors in Philosophy and Distinction in History. “My thesis is about how the German phenomenological tradition can aid cognitive science’s quest to understand human consciousness. The thesis draws on Martin Heidegger’s understanding of what it is to be ontologically finite, explained in his book, Being and Time, to show how this essential condition of human being is coextensive with human mindedness, and argues for the necessity of ontology in fields that study the human mind. I also completed a capstone project in history titled ‘Ontological Death and World Collapse: Making Sense of the Interwar Period in Germany.'”

Students Pitch Social Benefit Business Ideas

Be Better

Blake Northrop ’22, won the Wesleyan COLLISION Spring 2020 pitch competition on May 5 with his venture, Be Better, a clothing brand focused on producing sustainable products.

A clothing brand that promotes education and discussion of mental health and wellness is the winner of the Wesleyan COLLISION Spring 2020 pitch competition sponsored by the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

Created by Blake Northrop ’22, Be Better consists of the clothing brand itself—which highly values customer participation and artist collaboration—as well as an online community forum for followers and members to connect, discuss, and share their stories about mental health.

On May 5, Northrop and more than dozen other aspiring student entrepreneurs pitched their social benefit business ideas. Watch a recording of the Pitch Night online here.

Traveler’s Lab Creates Map of COVID-19 Cases in the NYC Commuting Region

COVID-19 map

Wesleyan’s Traveler’s Lab released a time-enabled regional map of COVID-19 cases in the tri-state area surrounding New York City.

In late March, as New York City’s coronavirus infection rate skyrocketed to five times higher than the rest of the country, members of Wesleyan’s Traveler’s Lab explored a movement-focused approach to the rapid spread of the disease.

Rather than focusing on political borders, lab members depicted major freeways, highways, and commuter rail lines out of New York City, and examined counties within a 2.5-hour drive from the City.

“While New York City may be the center, it is the travel region immediately surrounding the city that provides the true context of how COVID-19 has spread and is spreading to, and from, the City,” said Traveler’s Lab manager Jesse Torgerson, assistant professor of letters. “Informed by geographic and historical methods, this approach provides a truer context for human interactions.”

Theater Department Produces, Livestreams The Method Gun

method gun

The cast and crew of the Theater Department’s production of The Method Gun answered questions from the public following their livestreamed performance on May 2. Speaking (highlighted in yellow) is the show’s director Katie Pearl, assistant director of theater.

The shows must go on.

Rather than allowing the COVID-19 pandemic to force a final curtain call on theatrical productions, Wesleyan’s Theater Department pivoted to an online format. On May 1, and again on May 2, the department offered livestreamed performances of The Method Gun, featuring 10 student-actors.

A replay of the Saturday performance is available for viewing on The Method Gun @ Wes website.

After countless hours of line rehearsals, overcoming technical frustrations, and learning how to act and teach theater in a virtual world, show director and Assistant Professor of Theater Katie Pearl breathed a sigh of relief during the Thursday night dress rehearsal.

“I almost can’t believe what we pulled off,” Pearl said. “It was super down-to-the-wire. We were cutting and rewriting scenes up until the last minute and wrestling with livestreaming software, but it all came together on Thursday. For the first time, it really worked. And all of us just wept afterwards. Because we’d made a thing. We’d transcended what felt like an impossible situation, and stayed committed to each other and the process to create something that really meant what we wanted it to mean.”

Ngodup ’20, Joshi ’20, Khun ’20 Inducted Into ASBMB Honor Society

For demonstrating exceptional achievement in academics, undergraduate research, and science outreach, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology inducted Tenzin Ngodup ’20, Meera Joshi ’20, and Charya Khun ’20 into the ASBMB Honor Society, ΧΩΛ.

ΧΩΛ recognizes exceptional undergraduate juniors and seniors pursuing degrees in the molecular life sciences at colleges or universities. To be eligible, undergraduate nominees must be members of an ASBMB student chapter, and maintain a minimum of a 3.4 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

Nominations may be submitted by either a faculty ASBMB member or by the student member.

Ngodup, Joshi, and Khun are among only 56 students from around the country who were inducted into the honor society in 2020. All three are members of the Mukerji Lab, which is managed by Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

The Mukerji Lab research uses spectroscopic tools to investigate challenging problems in biology by exploring the structure-function relationship of biomolecules.

Wesleyan Investment Group Takes 1st Place in Adirondack Cup

Adirondack Cup 2020

The Wesleyan Investment Group outperformed the Russel 2000 index with a portfolio return of 44% higher than their market benchmark. The team won The Adirondack Cup based on receiving the highest return on their initial investment.

The student-run Wesleyan Investment Group (WIG) is celebrating a first-place victory in a six-month-long collegiate investment contest that concluded April 9.

Despite the COVID-19 epidemic’s detrimental impact to the stock market, WIG managed to garner a 27.04% return in the 2019–20 Adirondack Cup, a stock-picking contest sponsored by the advisor to The Adirondack Small Cap Fund (ADKSX). Wesleyan competed against 22 other institutions in New England and New York.

Each student team managed a hypothetical $1 million portfolio consisting of five small cap equities. Team members studied the performance of more than 100 businesses and predicted which ones would perform the best between October 2019 and April 2020. To encourage a long-term focus, teams are only allowed to change their portfolio once during the competition.

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.”

81 Students from the Class of 2020 Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

phi beta kappa

Wesleyan’s Gamma Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society is the ninth oldest chapter in the country.

Eighty-one seniors have been elected into Wesleyan University’s Gamma Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society during the 2020 spring semester.

They join 15 other seniors elected during the 2019 fall semester.

To be elected, a student must first have been nominated by the department of his or her major. The student also must have demonstrated curricular breadth by having met the General Education Expectations and must have achieved a GPA of 93 or above.

The emblem contains the three Greek letters “Phi,” “Beta,” and “Kappa,” which are the initials of the Greek motto, Philosophia Biou Kybernetes, or “the love of wisdom is the guide of life.”

The 2020 inductees include:

Kate Awalt-Conley, Inayah Bashir, Kiara Chanel Benn, Maya Bernstein-Schalet, Kisanet Bezabih, Julia Boland, Erica Buckingham, Jonathan Canfield, Chelsea Cantos, Jules Matthew Chabot, Edward Chapman, Ruth Chartoff, Yin-Tung Chen, Andrew Daggon, Lillian Davis, Lucy de Lotbiniere, Maya Roth Donovan, Sarafina Fabris-Green, Gabriella Feder, Stephen Ferruolo, Andrew Fleming, Luke Forsthoefel, Nathaniel Gillman, Naomi Glascock, and Julia Glassman.