This month, the Class of 2024 admitted students and their families are learning all about Wesleyan during the 2020 WesFest. In lieu of the traditional, on-campus three-day event, the University is hosting a series of virtual information sessions, department open houses, student and parent panels, and department events through the Zoom application.
“We hope to deliver the same core experience that our on-campus WesFest program strives to provide: a firsthand look at life on campus, opportunities in and out of the classroom, and, of course, a chance for admitted students and family members to pose any outstanding questions they have about Wesleyan,” said Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez ’96, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid.
Sessions focused on social entrepreneurship at Wesleyan; study abroad opportunities; finding a career with a liberal arts education; campus sustainability; opportunities in the sciences, health professions, and classical studies; the LGBTQ community; Wesleyan athletics; navigating survivor care and support at Wesleyan; and more.
On April 16, Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 delivered a welcome address to the Class of 2024 admitted students and their families.
Roth explained his three hopes for what students can accomplish during their college experience: discover what they love to do, get better at it, and share it with other people.
“You may get As and be good at tests, but you may not know what makes you feel what is meaningful,” he said. “It’s important you discover other things you didn’t know you even cared about that make you feel exuberant and full of energy.”
He concluded: “Take the education you’re privileged to get and use it in a powerful, meaningful, and contributory way. If that sounds exciting to you, come to Wes!”
On April 27, Andrew Clibanoff ’86, P’19, ’22, Dana Dudley P’20 and Johannah Townsend ’91, P’22, ’24 will lead a parent-to-parent panel; and on April 30, Wesleyan student tour guides will provide a last-minute Q&A for admitted students.
A sampling of the WesFest virtual sessions are below:
Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 delivered a WesFest welcome message to Class of 2024 admitted students. “You should be on campus right now. You should be touring this incredible place,” he said. “I’m sorry you didn’t get to have that experience. The world turned upside down, and here we are. But welcome to Wesleyan. I’m thrilled that you’re going to be joining us in the fall.”
Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez ’96, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, congratulated the admitted students on their acceptance to the Class of 2024. “At Wes, we stand tall and together,” he said. “We encourage exploration and celebrate the fact that no two Cardinals, even if they share common characteristics, have identical journeys to or through campus.”
On April 15, Sharon Belden Castonguay, executive director of the Gordon Career Center, delivered a live presentation entitled “Teacher, Banker, Coder, Artist: Learning Career Management in a Liberal Arts Environment.” (The large photo above is taken from a past event held at the Gordon Career Center, before social distancing measures.) Belden Castonguay focused her discussion on the benefits of a liberal arts education in finding work after college. She explained how Wesleyan career advisors help coach students through the process of preparing themselves for the workforce.
Middletown Mayor and Wesleyan alumnus Ben Florsheim ’14 offered a prerecorded welcome to the Class of 2024. “Congratulations and welcome to Wes, and the next four years will be exciting and memorable in so many ways,” he said.
Joseph Knee, dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division, Beach Professor of Chemistry, and Janice Naegele, the Alan M. Dachs Professor of Science, professor of biology, spoke about “Opportunities in the Sciences.” They spoke about the division’s notable programs, science-focused student groups, the BA/MA degree, undergraduate research opportunities, graduate programs, labs, and faculty advisors, and answered several questions from 2024 admits.
Pablo Wickham ’21, a neuroscience and theater double major, spoke about his experience working in the Naegele Lab, where he studies the neuroactivity of mice for epilepsy research. Wickham, a resident of Jamaica, is remaining on Wesleyan’s campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. “When I got accepted [to Wesleyan], I came to WesFest and I fell in love with it,” he said. Wickham also is part of Wesleyan’s Math and Science Scholars Program (WesMASS).
On April 16, Emily Gorlewski, associate director of study abroad, led an info session about the benefits of studying abroad. Wesleyan considers study abroad to be an essential part of a liberal arts education for students majoring in any subject. She said 71 percent of all students study at least one other language at Wesleyan.
As part of the study abroad session, Kiki Vetoulis-Acevedo ’21, a French major, shared her personal experience studying abroad in France. “In the end, I felt connected to every community I was part of—my host family, my academic community, and other students on the trip. There was so much to learn there, and so much to learn just from living with a host family. [The experience] taught me a much broader lesson on critical thinking and exploration of ideas.”
During President Roth’s WesFest welcome, he answered questions from families about financial aid, Wesleyan’s academic strengths, internships, psychological support, and careers in the liberal arts. “Wesleyan is a place of great energy, and I hope you can feel it now, and feel it on campus sometime in the future,” he said.
In a prerecorded message, actress and Wesleyan alumna Beanie Feldstein ’15 said, “[Wesleyan is] such a joyous, active, stimulating, thrilling place to be every day. And I’m just so honored to have gone to Wesleyan. And I’m here to congratulate you all for being admitted. I’m here to encourage you to say ‘Yes to Wes!'”
Mildred Rodriguez, Gordon Career Center health professions advisor, hosted a session for Class of 2024 admits who have an interest in planning and preparing for careers in a medical field. Rodriguez said in addition to completing regular coursework, students interested in health professions should volunteer in a clinical setting each year, consider study abroad opportunities, complete summer internships and summer education programs, join student groups, and participate in extracurricular and community service activities. “It’s important to show that you’re committed to helping others,” she said.
Andy Szegedy-Maszak, Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, led a virtual Classical Studies Open House. Fellow faculty, undergraduates, and alumni spoke with Class of 2024 admitted students about the department, courses, and activities. Szegedy-Maszak; Eirene Visvardi, associate professor and chair of classical studies; and Serena Witzke, visiting assistant professor of classical studies, each described their research interests and the classes they teach.
Wesleyan Green Fund member Catherine Xi ’21 spoke on the Sustainability at Wesleyan WesFest panel. Xi works with the recycling coordinator and energy coordinator for the City of Middletown.
In a prerecorded video, Paula Page, a licensed buyer at Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore, welcomes the Class of 2024 to “the Wesleyan family” and previews the swag available in the bookstore.
Four current student-athletes, one coach, and one alumnus hosted a panel on athletics at Wesleyan. The group addressed the topics of balancing athletics with academic and social life, working a job on campus as an athlete, what can be expected of student-athletes in and out of season, and injury management, and answered general questions about student-athlete life.
Aidan Winn ’18 shared his personal experience as a former member of the men’s swimming and diving team. Winn is now an assistant dean of admission at Wesleyan.
Chad White ’23 was one of four students who spoke during a Student of Color Student Panel on April 21. White came to Wesleyan for its open curriculum and felt Wesleyan stood out among other liberal arts institutions in New England. He’s a tour guide, member of Psi U fraternity, and student improv groups Gag Reflex and Awkward Silence.