Tag Archive for community service

Alumni Honored for Distinguished Achievements, Outstanding Service at Annual Assembly, Meeting

The award winners stand on stage in two rows.

President Roth, far left, and members of the Alumni Association Executive Committee joined the alumni receiving awards on the stage of Crowell Concert Hall before the Annual Meeting of the Alumni Association. Front row (l. to r.): Secretary of the Alumni Association Cecilia Pohorille McCall ’91; Distinguished Alumni Bozoma “Boz” Saint John ’99, Rob King ’84, and Jeffrey Deitch ’74; Outstanding Service Award recipient Daphne Kwok ’84; and Distinguished Alumnus Gordon Crawford ’69. Top row (l. to r.): Chair of the Alumni Association Muzzy Rosenblatt ’87, Distinguished Alumna Jenno Topping ’89; Outstanding Service Award recipients Bert Edwards ’59 and Edward Murphy ’59; James L. McConaughy Jr. Memorial Award recipient Alexander Chee ’89; Distinguished Alumnus Scott Gottlieb ’94; and Distinguished Alumnus Thomas Kail ’99, who spoke on how “Finding Your People Matters the Most.”  (Photo by Tom Dzimian)

At the Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Wesleyan Alumni Association on May 25, seven alumni received Distinguished Alumnus Awards. Three Outstanding Service Awards were presented, along with the James L. McConaughy Jr. Memorial Award, which is given to a member of the community whose writing conveys “unusual insights and understanding of current and past events.” Thomas Kail ’99, renowned and award-winning director and producer for theater, film, and television, delivered the keynote, “Finding Your People Matters the Most,” tracing the path that led him to his current position through a dedication to service and surrounding himself with others who shared his vision.

Muzzy Rosenblatt ’87, chair of the Alumni Association, delivered the citations honoring the alumni.

The award recipients are:

THOMAS MICHAEL KAIL ’99: Thomas Kail is a director and producer for theater, film, and television. The winner of two Emmys for producing and directing Grease: Live for Fox television, he won a Tony for directing Hamilton in 2016. His latest project is the limited series Fosse/Verdon, on which he served as executive producer for the series and as director of five episodes. He serves as honorary co-chair of the University’s Hamilton Prize Selection Committee.

GORDON CRAWFORD ’69: Gordy Crawford retired at the end of 2012 after a 41-year career with the Capital Group’s Capital Research and Management Company. He is the chairman of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation, as well as a lifetime active trustee and past chairman of the board of Southern California Public Radio.

JEFFREY W. DEITCH ’74: In the art world, Jeffrey Deitch has performed nearly every role: artist, art critic, curator, museum director, and art dealer. Now operating galleries in New York and Los Angeles, he is the author of a new book on figurative painting, Unrealism, which will be published by Rizzoli in the fall of 2019.

President Roth (left) and Distinguished Alumnus Rob King ’84 listen as Muzzy Rosenblatt ’87 cites King’s accomplishments at the ceremony.

ROBERT F. KING ’84: As senior vice president at ESPN, Rob King is an influential multimedia architect at the biggest brand in sports, directly overseeing ESPN’s entire portfolio of storytelling assets. A six-time Sports Emmy award-winner and a past Pulitzer judge, King is a member of the Associated Press board of directors, the Center for Investigative Reporting board, and the Poynter Institute’s board of trustees.

JENNO TOPPING ’89: As current president of Film and Television at Chernin Entertainment, Jenno Topping oversees all of the company’s development and production, including the Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures (2016). This past year, Ms. Topping spearheaded “Who’s in the Room,” Time’s Up Entertainment’s mentorship program designed to increase the presence of individuals from underrepresented groups in the producer and executive ranks.

SCOTT GOTTLIEB ’94: Scott Gottlieb is a physician and health policy expert who served as the 23rd commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from May 2017 to April 2019, during which he focused on a wide variety of issues, including drug pricing, medical product innovation, and vaccination promotion. Currently, he has returned to his role as a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C.

Cardinal Kids Teaching Collective Hosts Interactive Lessons for Area Children

Wesleyan’s student group, Cardinal Kids, led a six-part series of events throughout the month of February at the Wesleyan R.J. Julia Bookstore. Cardinal Kids is a teaching collective run by Wesleyan students, each adapting their on-campus work into fun, interactive lessons for children in grades 1–5.

Throughout the month, Cardinal Kids provided a comic book–making workshop, two introductions to world art, a lesson on protecting the environment, a class on journalism and newspapers, and a DNA-extracting workshop. All lessons were taught alongside an accompanying book.

On Feb. 21, Cardinal Kids’ Meera Joshi ’20 led “Get That DNA!” using the book Have a Nice DNA. Participants extracted DNA from strawberries and learned about genetics. The events are free to all participants. For more information email books@wesleyan.edu.

Photos of the DNA workshop are below: (Photos by Caroline Kravitz)

Princeton Review Ranks Wesleyan as Its No. 1 Impact School

Wesleyan University was named the No. 1 “Impact School” for 2019 by The Princeton Review.

Wesleyan and the other 24 schools that made the list “were selected based on student ratings and responses to survey questions covering community service opportunities at their school, student government, sustainability efforts, and on-campus student engagement.” The Princeton Review also took into account PayScale.com’s percentage of alumni from each school that reported having high job meaning.

Since the Princeton Review created this category in 2015, Wesleyan has remained at the top of the list.

“According to our Civic Action Plan, we wish to be an increasingly ‘Engaged University’ where we prepare our students to engage in civic participation throughout their lives and where civic responsibility is a visible institutional commitment,” said Rhea Drozdenko ’18, coordinator of community participation for Wesleyan’s Jewett Center for Community Partnerships. 

Coaches, Student Athletes Teach Local Girls about Sports

Wesleyan’s Athletic Department hosted its fourth annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day celebration on Jan. 26 at the Freeman Athletic Center.

Wesleyan coaches and student-athletes taught local girls in kindergarten through sixth grade about various sports, including track, soccer, softball, field hockey, volleyball, lacrosse, and more.

In addition to the lessons, participants had the opportunity to watch a women’s basketball game and a women’s ice hockey game. The women’s ice hockey team also hosted a “Skate with the Cardinals” where players welcomed fans and the girls to join them on the ice. Pizza was provided to all participants.

(Photos by Yizhuang Lin ’22 and Mingxuan Zhang ’22)

Public Safety, Greek Life Stuff a Cruiser to Benefit Local Children in Need

Wesleyan Public Safety Sgt. Kathy Burdick and dispatcher Val Walker collect toy donations from the Wesleyan community during the office’s inaugural Stuff a Cruiser event Dec. 4.

Wesleyan Public Safety and Greek Life hosted a Stuff a Cruiser event Dec. 3–7 at Usdan’s Huss Courtyard and Dec. 8 at Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore. The University partnered with the Middletown Fire Department by collecting donations to benefit local children in need during the holidays and throughout the year.

Several members of Psi Upsilon also helped staff the event and Bon Appétit Management Co. provided free coffee vouchers for anyone who made a donation.

“The Wesleyan community has been so generous during our Stuff a Cruiser event,” said Sgt. Kathy Burdick. “We ‘ve collected many toys and cash donations, and we look forward to doing this again next year.”

As a result of the donations, which filled five Public Safety cruisers, Wesleyan helped 16 local families provide gifts for their children on Christmas.

Public Safety also is collecting donations (including wrapping paper) at the office located at 208 High Street. (Photos by Alexa Jablonski ’22)

Bergstein ’88, Frosh ’68, Lesser ’10, Martin ’99, Rose ’08 Enjoy Election Success

Alumni who have met with success in the midterm elections include:

  • Democrat Alex Bergstein ’88, who won a Connecticut State Senate race;
  • Democrat Brian Frosh ’68, who won re-election as Maryland Attorney general;
  • Democrat Matt Lesser ’10, who prevailed in Connecticut’s State Senate race for the 9th district, which includes Middletown;
  • Democrat Amy Martin ’99 is judge-elect for the Texas District Court 263; and
  • Democrat Max Rose ’08, who won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 11th Congressional District.

An article in the Greenwich Time quoted Bergstein, post-victory, as saying, “‘I am elated. I am humbled. I am grateful and I am so ready to serve.’ … Calling herself a ‘different kind of Democrat,’ Bergstein said she would work outside of Hartford’s two-party system.”

A News 12 story noted that Bergstein’s win was historic because “A Democrat has not represented Greenwich and New Canaan in the state Senate for 88 years.”

Paik ’16 Wins Goldman Sachs Funds for 3D-Printed Housing Nonprofit

Ellen Paik ’16 (right) speaks to Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and the Partnership Committee on behalf of New Story, a nonprofit organization that seeks to address global homelessness through the development and application of 3D printing technology.

Ellen Paik ’16, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, teamed up with three colleagues to pitch New Story, an organization working on developing low-cost housing solutions via 3D printing technology, to Goldman Sachs’ CEO and Partnership Committee as part of the Analyst Impact Fund, a global firmwide competition. The prize: a grant to the finalist teams’ selected nonprofits. The event was broadcasted live online on Yahoo Finance (see Paik’s team come in around 38 minutes).

Paik’s group placed second in the global finals and earned New Story $75,000 in support of the organization’s 3D printing initiative. The grant will go towards building the very first complex of 3D printed homes constructed by a nonprofit, in El Salvador by 2019.

“The four of us were attracted to the idea of promoting a scalable technology solution that addresses a global issue,” explains Paik. “We came across New Story, an organization that we really admired because they involve the local community and government in every step of the home-building process—planning, design, and construction—in ways that many existing organizations do not. New Story has helped over a thousand families in Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia that used to live in life-threatening conditions and that have been affected by natural disaster. Now, these families are empowered homeowners and able to better secure economic opportunity, safety, access to education, and a sense of community.”

Students in Rural Access Group Receive Davis Peace Grant

The Rural Access team of Wesleyan students has won a coveted $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant. Members (l to r) are: Edelina Marzouk ’20, Momi Afelin ’20, Betty Bekele ’20, Emanuel Fetene ’21, Nebiyu Daniel ’18

The Rural Access team of Wesleyan students has won a coveted $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant. Members include: (front row, from left) Edelina Marzouk ’19, Momi Afelin ’19, and Betty Bekele ’19; (back row, from left) Emanuel Fetene ’20 and Nebiyu Daniel ’18. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Five Wesleyan students determined to make life better for girls in rural African areas have received a prestigious $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant.

Their start-up nonprofit, Rural Access, seeks to expand access to health and education in impoverished areas, while also raising awareness of pressing health issues. Among those is the need to address lack of menstrual hygiene products, which frequently keeps girls out of school and leads to high dropout rates, poverty, and other harmful outcomes.

This summer, Rural Access will be working in Ethiopia and Guyana to make menstrual hygiene kits and distribute them to girls. The project is far more complicated than it sounds because it involves establishing partnerships, winning the trust of communities, and overcoming adverse conditions, including near–civil war in Ethiopia.

Nebiyu Daniel ’18, the founder and leader of Rural Access, says that, “Work like this requires a lot of commitment. It takes a dedicated team, and we work on this every day.”

The team consists of Daniel, Momi Afelin ’19, Edelina Marzouk ’19, Betty Bekele ’19, and Emanuel Fetene ’20.

Daniel founded Rural Access on the principle that connection to the community served is essential. He was born in Ethiopia and spent his childhood there. In the summer of 2016, he returned to his native region of Garamuleta to work with elderly individuals and to distribute first-aid kits to 500 families.

Cardinal Community Classic Raises Funds for Local Cancer Center

Jordan Bonner ’19, at right, presented a check for $3,088.26 to Middlesex Hospital’s Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center on April 15. The funds were raised during the Cardinal Community Classic basketball tournament held at Wesleyan.

According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 1 in 8 American women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime, and every day new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed.

On April 15, more than 40 teams from Wesleyan and the Middletown community participated in the inaugural Cardinal Community Classic, a 3v3 basketball fundraising tournament. All proceeds, totaling nearly $3,400, were donated to Middlesex Hospital’s Comprehensive Breast Center to support local individuals affected by breast cancer.

The event was spearheaded by men’s basketball team member Jordan Bonner ’19, whose aunt is a breast cancer survivor. Bonner recruited Lina Marzouk ’19, Remi French ’20 and local business owner Ernesto Vargas to help organize the event. In addition, men’s basketball team members JR Bascom ’18 and Jordan Sears ’18, football player Brandon Morris ’19, and assistant basketball coaches William Battaglia and Tyler Gaffaney helped Bonner with planning and logistics. Several other student-athletes volunteered to serve as referees, scorers, and registration table staff.

“I really wanted to put together an event to honor my aunt and support people who are going through the same journey,” Bonner said. “This event benefited not only patients, but our community as a whole. We believe this event and the generous donations made will touch the lives of those most affected in the greater Middletown community. The tournament also fosters a better sense of community between Wesleyan students and Middletown residents as we come together to support individuals affected by this disease.”

Bonner hopes that in subsequent years, Wesleyan can establish a Cardinal Community Classic scholarship fund that can be awarded to Middlesex Hospital’s Comprehensive Breast Center and other entities that are doing similar work.

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.

Students Use Mapping Skills to Collaborate with Community Partner

Earth and environmental sciences major Jackie Buskop '19 collects field data along a hiking trail in Connecticut. (Photo by Melissa Luna)

Earth and environmental sciences major Jackie Buskop ’19 collects field data along a hiking trail in Connecticut while working on a class project. (Photo by Melissa Luna)

Last fall, 19 students enrolled in the Earth and Environmental Sciences 280 course, Introduction to GIS, assisted a local organization while learning data analysis skills.

At the start of the semester, the class teamed up with community partner Emma Kravet, education director at the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA). Kravet expressed a need for a mapping tool that shows the location of schools and other community resources near the CFPA’s blue-blazed hiking trail system. If such a map existed, she could facilitate more meaningful connections to schools and organizations near the trails.

The class broke into five thematic groups to address the CFPA’s needs: recreation, environment, trail access, educational opportunities and public history.

Students first learned about GIS (geographic information systems) and ways they could capture, organize, store, edit, analyze and display spatial and geographic data.

Students Teach DNA, Self-Awareness Workshops to Local Children

On Nov. 30, Alex Shames '18, Alison Biester '19, Sojeong Park '18, Alexa Strauss '19 and Mikaela Carty '18, who belong to the Molecular and Biochemistry Department's undergraduate student group Major Groove, lead workshops on DNA.

Wesleyan students recently hosted special 1/2 day programs for the Green Street Arts Center AfterSchool students. On Nov. 30, Alex Shames ’18 (pictured), Alison Biester ’19, Sojeong Park ’18, Alexa Strauss ’19 and Mikaela Carty ’18, who belong to the Molecular and Biochemistry Department’s undergraduate student group Major Groove, led workshops on DNA.