Tag Archive for students

Formerly Enslaved Woman Honored at 1820 Gravesite

Individuals honoring the gravesite and remembering Silva Storms, who was born in Africa and lived as an enslaved person in Middletown, include (left to right) Visiting Assistant Professor of African American Studies Jesse Nasta (far left), Professor Liza McAlister, chair of the Department of African American Studies (far right), and Jumoke McDuffie-Thurmond ’19 with Chief Ayanda Clarke ’99 (center). Congregants who traveled with Chief Ayanda (wearing white, left to right of center: Monica John, Shelby Olatutu Banks, Nkosi Fajumo Gray, and April Alake Silver) also gathered for the ceremony led by Clarke. Next to the Storms gravesite is that of Nancy Williams, a relative of Storms. (Photo by Wendy Black-Nasta P’07)

On May 9, a group of students, faculty, and Middletown friends joined Jumoke McDuffie-Thurmond ’19 and Chief Ayanda Clarke ’99 in a spiritual commemoration ceremony to honor a woman, Silva Storms, who died in 1820 and was buried in the cemetery on Vine Street, across from the Beman Triangle. Research indicates she had been born in Africa and was brought to Middletown as an enslaved person. The event was part of McDuffie-Thurmond’s research project for Black Middletown Lives, the service-learning course taught by Jesse Nasta ’07, visiting assistant professor of African American studies.

Nasta notes that McDuffie-Thurmond, who had been documenting the African American burials in the cemetery as part of his final project in the class, “completely took it upon himself to take that 10 steps beyond the assignment, to envision this ceremony. Jumoke is not just documenting the gravesites, but honoring the people who were enslaved here in Middletown.”

For his part, McDuffie-Thurmond remembers the first time Nasta took the class to the cemetery as a significant experience. “I’d never been to the section of the graveyard that was designated for Black Middletown residents, and Silva Storms’s gravesite—her tombstone stood almost alone in an open space—resonated with me. Professor Nasta told us it was the oldest tombstone in the African American section. I sat down there and listened to what was around me, what I felt, and I thought, I have to do something that tends to the spirit. We have a legacy of slavery in this land that constantly informs the space we live in—and it is unresolved. I wanted to do something that would resonate with those of us who live here now. It was a very intuitive decision.”

Mixed-Race, Interfaith Identities Explored through Performative Conversations

Middletown-based ARTFARM artistic director Marcella Trowbridge, center, works with Lola Makombo ’20 on crafting a performative conversation based on interviews with a family member.

Students in the Mixed in America: Race, Religion, and Memoir course explored mixed-race identities not only through reading, writing, and classroom discussion, but through performative art.

Matt Kleppner ’18 created a short performance based on an interview with his uncle.

Throughout the semester, students used the genre of the memoir as a focusing lens to look at ways that Americans of mixed heritage have found a place, crafted an identity, and made meaning out of being considered “mixed.”

The course is part of Wesleyan’s Creative Campus Initiative, which pairs non-arts faculty with artists for collaborative teaching and research. Professor Liza McAlister teamed up with the local professional theater organization ARTFARM to offer students a module of four classes under the instruction of artistic director Marcella Trowbridge.

In the students’ exploration of memoir, Trowbridge asked them to interview a family member and craft a short performative piece based on their interviews–or–their responses to their interviews.

“We spoke about ‘brass tack’ strategies for interviewing and documentation, but then left the linear procedural work for a process-based inquiry,” Trowbridge explained.

The class collaboratively brainstormed and worked physically with mark-making, personal items, architecture, kinesthetic response, and the use of space. Students also learned about using text, gestures, movement, sound, repetition, and props in a performance.

On April 18 and 19, the students shared their compositions with their classmates.

Students Prepare for Final Exams, Winter Recess

On Dec. 11, Caroline Kravitz '19 studied for her HIST 203 Modern Europe exam at Exley Science Center. "My finals aren't until next Saturday, but I want to get a good head start," she said. "I like to study alone at first to prepare, but then I prefer to study in groups because you can learn so much more from your peers."

On Dec. 11, Caroline Kravitz ’19 studied for her HIST 203 Modern Europe exam at Exley Science Center. “My finals aren’t until next Saturday, but I want to get a good head start,” she said. “I like to study alone at first to prepare, but then I prefer to study in groups because you can learn so much more from your peers.”

This week, in preparation for final exams, hundreds of students are flooding Olin Library, Science Library, Exley Science Center, Usdan University Center and other quiet spots seeking an area to study in solitude, while others are collaborating with classmates in groups.

Undergraduate and graduate classes ended on Dec. 8. Reading Period was held Dec. 9-12 and final exams end at 5 p.m. Dec. 16.

University housing closes on Dec. 17 and re-opens on Jan. 23, 2018, and spring semester classes for Wesleyan undergraduates and graduates begins on Jan. 25. Graduate Liberal Studies courses begin on Jan. 29.

Lobster, Clam Bake Highlight of Eat Local Challenge

Hundreds of students, faculty and staff attended the Eat Local Challenge, held Sept. 26 on Andrus Field. All food served was sourced or harvested from within 150 miles of Wesleyan’s campus.

During the 13th annual Eat Local Challenge on Sept. 26, Wesleyan students, faculty and staff dined on a midday meal made entirely from local ingredients.

The event challenged Bon Appétit Management Company staff to create a meal from products and ingredients harvested within a 150-mile radius of the campus. The meal included produce, meat, dessert and drinks from local farmers, ranchers, food crafters and fishermen.

Food included house-smoked pork-belly bacon from Lucki 7 Livestock Co. in Rodman, N.Y.; Bloomsday cheese from Cato Corner in Colchester, Conn.; lobster, little-neck clams and mussels from Damariscotta, Maine; apple cider-glazed chicken and baked corn from Horse Listener’s Orchard in Ashford, Conn.; potatoes from Szawlowski Farm in Hatfield, Mass.; butter and cream from Ronnybrook Farm Dairy in Ancramdale, N.Y.; turkey burgers and baked berry cobbler from Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm in Sterling, Conn.; rosemary focaccia bread, prepared with graham flour from Kenyon’s Grist Mill in Usquepaugh, R.I.; among much more.

Photos of the Eat Local Challenge are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Faculty, Students, Alumnus Co-Author Paper in Biochemistry Journal

Wesleyan co-authors published a paper titled “The Stories Tryptophans Tell: Exploring Protein Dynamics of Heptosyltransferase I from Escherichia coli” in the January 2017 issue of Biochemistry.

The co-authors include chemistry graduate student Joy Cote; alumni Zarek Siegel ’16 and Daniel Czyzyk, PhD ’15; and faculty Erika Taylor, associate professor of chemistry; Ishita Mukerji, the Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Their paper investigates the intrinsic properties of Tryptophan amino acids found within the protein, Heptosyltransferase I, to understand the ways this protein moves during catalysis. Understanding the movement of this protein is an important step in developing its inhibitors.

When this protein is inactive, either because it was genetically altered or inhibited, hydrophobic antibiotics become more effective, so inhibitors could be useful in reactivating antibiotics that are current not effective against these bacteria.

While it is popularly believed that inhibiting a protein requires a compound to compete with the substrate, their paper argues that instead one can design a inhibitor to disrupt protein dynamics, preventing activity. The co-authors compare the function of this “protein dynamics disruptor” to a wedge holding open a door–once inserted, the inhibitor prevents the protein from performing its function.

Their research on Tryptophan residues also found that distant regions of the protein communicate whether or not they are binding their substrate to other regions.

“It would be like if your right hand knew that your left hand was holding a pencil just by the changes in the position of your left hand. We are currently pursuing computational studies to look for these motions via molecular dynamics experiments,” Taylor said.

Students Raise Funds for Childhood Cancer Research at Dance Marathon

westhon7On April 8, more than 250 students helped raise funds for children and families impacted by childhood cancer.

westhon6WesThon, a student-run philanthropy, provides emotional and financial support to affected families, and spreads awareness and ensures funding for critical research — all in pursuit of a cure. WesThon’s yearlong efforts culminate with a six-hour, no-sitting dance marathon at Psi Upsilon.

At this years event, WesThon participants raised more than $20,000 for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, doubling what they raised last year.

“Since this is only the second year of the event we are beyond thrilled with the result,” said Dana Mitchell ’18, who oversaw recruitment for the event.

(Photos by Christopher Wilkos)

Undergraduates Return from Winter Recess, Begin Spring Semester

After a six-week Winter Recess, university housing re-opened for all undergraduates on Jan. 24 and the spring semester commenced on Jan. 26.

After a six-week Winter Recess, university housing re-opened for all undergraduates on Jan. 24 and the spring semester commenced on Jan. 26. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

On Jan. 26, students flocked to Usdan University Center to dine and mingle with friends.

On Jan. 26, students flocked to Usdan University Center to dine and mingle with friends.

Jamaica native Nicholas Evans ’18 spent his winter recess in Stratford, Conn., where his parents now reside. “I really enjoyed spending time with [my parents], but I missed the constant interaction with people here at Wesleyan. It’s interesting to go from almost complete isolation to having everybody everywhere,” he said. Nicholas, who is majoring in mathematics, and was already solving equations in the Science Library on his first day back, said he hoped to work on homework while he was away on break, but not everything went according to plan. “I’m an avid reader and I love to borrow four or five books and just read,” he said. “But math. Somehow math homework never came up.”

Jamaica native Nicholas Evans ’18 spent his break in Stratford, Conn., where his parents now reside. “I really enjoyed spending time with [my parents], but I missed the constant interaction with people here at Wesleyan. It’s interesting to go from almost complete isolation to having everybody everywhere,” he said. Nicholas, who is majoring in mathematics, and was already solving equations in the Science Library on his first day back, said he hoped to work on homework while he was away on break, but not everything went according to plan. “I’m an avid reader and I love to borrow four or five books and just read,” he said. “But math. Somehow math homework never came up.”

Wesleyan Hosts Undocumented Students Conference

Wesleyan, along with Connecticut Students for a Dream, presented “Moving From Knowledge to Action: An Educators Conference on Undocumented Students” Nov. 4 in Beckham Hall.

Undocumented students in Connecticut and nationwide face a broad range of challenges, many of those specifically related to education. These issues directly stem from a student’s undocumented status as well as being disproportionately affected by other education equity issues.

Wesleyan staff joined high school teachers, counselors, parent liaisons, community organization staff, future educators, and others from around the state to discuss ways educational institutions can better support and advocate for undocumented students.

Attendees learned about the history and current climate surrounding undocumented students in education; discussed ways to make their school or campus a safe and welcoming space; and networked with fellow educators passionate about working with undocumented students to create change.

Photos of the conference are below:

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Students Celebrate the Season at Outhouse’s Fall Fest

The Wesleyan Program House Outhouse hosted its 10th Annual Fall Fest on Oct. 14 to celebrate the season. Outhouse residents provided fall-related foods such as apple crisps, apple cider, pumpkin pie, squash and corn, and activities such as apple bobbing, donuts on string, a homemade ball pit, a pumpkin walk, live music and more.

The event was funded by the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development and the Wesleyan Green Fund.

Outhouse serves as a base for the Wesleyan Outing Club. It brings together people who share a strong interest in the outdoors, and allows them to share that enthusiasm with others. Members of the house contribute to the organization of weekly outings, wilderness outdoor orientation trips, extended trips over breaks, and equipment rental, all of which are open to the entire Wesleyan community.

(Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

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Students Toss Objects from Exley’s Roof during Big Drop

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In 1589, Galileo dropped balls of various sizes from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to demonstrate that they all hit the ground at the same time. On May 4, Wesleyan students repeated this experiment in modern-day way at Exley Science Center. Several Wesleyan students, staff and faculty observed the “big drop.”

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Hanna Elszasz ’18, Sam Sheppe ’18, and Bill Nelligan, director of environmental services, dropped objects from the roof of Exley Science Center. In this test, the group used a Mac and PC.

Students Honored with Academic Prizes, Fellowships

The Office of Student Affairs hosted a Spring 2016 awards banquet for students who received academic prizes, fellowships and awards on May 4 in Daniel Family Commons.

Students received awards for demonstrating outstanding character, leadership and intellectual commitment; intercollegiate debating; extracurricular participation; promoting the health, visibility, and participation of the Latino community at Wesleyan; writing the best paper that uses econometric techniques to analyze an economic problem; excellence in environmental stewardship; excellence in modern languages; exhibition in painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, photography, or architecture; and much more.

To view the entire list of awards and recipients see Student Affairs Prizes website. (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

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