Students

Students Network, Share Interests at Annual Involvement Fair

From Alpha Delta Phi Society to the WeSanskriti—a South Asian classical dancing group—Wesleyan’s 300-plus student groups offer opportunities for students with different backgrounds to meet peers with common interests.

As part of Wesleyan’s Week of Welcome (WesWOW), representatives from more than 100 student groups and clubs gathered on Andrus Field Sept. 10 for the Student Involvement Fair. Group members provided information, sign-up sheets, and various activities associated with their individual clubs.

Wesleyan has more than 300 student-run groups, focusing on activism, identity, sports, publications, performance and visual arts, community service, religious affiliations, cultural interests, and more. Among them are the Botany Club, Photography Club, Mexican Ballet Folklorico, EveryVoteCounts, WesClimb, Bell and Scroll Society, Jewish Voice for Peace, Powerlifting Club, Society of Physics Students, Student of Color Fashion Show Committee, Ujamaa Black Student Union, WesEMT, and more.

The 21st annual event is sponsored by the Wesleyan Student Assembly and the Office of Student Involvement.

“Joining a club or group is a wonderful way for students to meet like-minded students,” said Joanne Rafferty, director of student involvement and New Student Orientation. “It also can contribute to their entire Wesleyan co-curricular experience.”

Any group wanting to hold a meeting or event can book a space via WesNest.

Photos of the Student Involvement Fair are below: (Photos by Willow Saxon ’24)

WesleyanDoulaProjec

The Wesleyan Doula Project provides free and compassionate support for people in the position of terminating their pregnancies, working to combat the stigma around abortion and reproductive health and to ensure that each individual receives the care they deserve. The WDP strives to empower students to pursue reproductive health work and to strengthen connections between Wesleyan and the local community. Driven by the values of health equity and Reproductive Justice, the WDP is part of a national Full-Spectrum Doula Movement committed to making doula care accessible to all people and all pregnancy outcomes.

wes buds

WesBuds is a partnership between Wesleyan students and the students of Middlesex Transition Academy (MTA). MTA students, ages 18-21, may have intellectual or developmental disabilities and are looking to address their own individual transition needs after high school. In WesBuds, students make new friends, participate in fun events like soccer clinics, watching movies, dancing, and hanging out.

Student-Athletes Return to Regular Play Following 2-Year Hiatus

Three hundred spectators watched Wesleyan beat Emerson in men’s soccer 2-0 on Sept. 7, the first game in the fall sports season.

The men’s soccer team celebrated a winning 2-0 victory over Emerson College on Sept. 7. This was the first game in the fall sports season. (Photo by Steve McLaughlin)

Rob Borman, Wesleyan’s grounds manager, watched as Wesleyan and Emerson’s soccer teams went through warmups on a beautiful late summer day.

It was warm and the sun shined as the players went through passing drills and stretched on the perfect turf. Emerson’s players shouted through their drills. Wesleyan’s goalies bounded from side to side as they practiced knocking away shots on goal.

Borman, though, wasn’t looking at the players. He was checking out his brand-new field, installed in May. “That is 100 percent Kentucky bluegrass,” he said. “The ball should roll awesome.”

For the first time in two years, Jackson Field was alive.

Three hundred spectators watched Wesleyan beat Emerson in men’s soccer 2-0 on Sept. 7, the first game in the fall sports season. In a full sports week, Wesleyan’s women’s soccer team defeated Keene State 7-0 and the women’s field hockey squad downed Western New England 6-1.

Ethan Barrett ’24

Ethan Barrett ’24

You would never know that the Cardinals had almost two full years off because of the global pandemic.

“It felt great. It was about 600 days since the last time we played, so sophomores and first years were extremely excited to get out there,” said Ethan Barrett ’24, a member of the men’s soccer team. “This is the thing we were talking about. This is the thing we were dreaming about, to get on this field.”

New International Students Hail from 64 Countries

international students

On Aug. 31, Wesleyan welcomed 112 new international students to campus. The largest groups come from China, India, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

ISO

Richard Bennet Morales ’24, pictured in front, center, is one of several international student orientation leaders who help new international students acclimate to campus life.

Richard Bennet Morales ’24 is what you’d call a “third culture kid.”

By definition, the term refers to a child who grows up in a culture different from the one in which his or her parents grew up. And Bennet Morales fits the description.

Born in Puerto Rico to Spanish and American parents, he moved to Paris at the age of 3, and to Barcelona 11 years later. After graduating from a French-speaking high school, he resided in Madrid, briefly, with his family.

And now, he’s among 392 international students studying at Wesleyan this fall.

“I was really interested in going to the U.S. since high school, especially looking for liberal arts schools due to the academic flexibility that it offers, as opposed to European universities that have more restrictive curriculums,” Bennet Morales said. “I toured several colleges around Boston, New York, and Washington D.C., and out of those I saw, Wesleyan was the one that felt most welcoming and sincere during the tours. I felt like Wesleyan could be one of my ‘homes.'”

Edvin Tran Hoac ’24 of Sweden began his Wesleyan journey remotely during the spring 2021 semester and is “super excited for classes to start,” he said. “I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to major in yet, but I’m really happy with my current schedule, which covers both my curiosity and academic interests.”

Before applying to Wes, Tran Hoac, who is a Davis International Scholar, was first impressed by the “lovely people” he met and the “beautiful campus” he encountered during a campus visit.

“I particularly liked that the university was known for being diverse and inclusive on top of being a top academic institution. These aspects, combined with the generous financial aid I was offered that made it economically feasible for me to attend, were the reasons I decided to come to Wesleyan,” he said.

New Students Arrive at Wesleyan Full of Hope (with Video, Photos)


Wet weather couldn’t dampen the feelings of excitement, anticipation and, above all, hope that abounded on Wesleyan University’s new student Arrival Day.

Over 900 students in the Class of 2025 – the second largest in Wesleyan’s history – as well as transfer students and students who deferred admission, moved in Wednesday morning. Many of this diverse group of young people from across the country and the globe navigated their entire application process through the complications of a global pandemic, demonstrating resilience in addition to intellectual and social acumen.

On this rainy morning, harnessing and shaping all of that nascent energy is a task for the future. As they moved into their dorms and said goodbye to their parents, the students’ minds were on new beginnings and, perhaps above all else, finding lasting friendships.

As she directed students to Clark Hall Wednesday morning, Anna Nguyen ’22 remembered her own Arrival Day three years ago.

Nguyen, an international student, had come to campus a few days before everyone else. “I remembered that I was alone, arriving at 8 p.m. But everyone was welcoming right away,” said Nguyen, who is now the Wesleyan Student Assembly president and works for the Office of Residential Life.

She called out to students walking toward their new home. “Welcome to Wesleyan,” she said. “Now I get to be that person,” Nguyen said.

Cars started pulling onto Andrus Field early in the morning. By 8:45 a.m. parents and students started the process of unloading. Current students helped parents wheel bins of necessities into the students’ dorm rooms—one mom had a plastic container of homemade cookies carefully perched on her kid’s boxes. The first rainy Arrival Day in over a decade was filled with anxious energy.

Pennsylvania resident Xzavier Pacheco ’25 felt good on his first day — he wasn’t nervous, at least not that he would say. He was excited to explore the freedom being at school offers and hoped that majoring in archaeology would feed his love of travel and history. “I just thought Wesleyan would be a good fit for me,” he said.

Scientific Images of Nanoparticles, Colliding Stars, Learned Words Win Annual Contest

We had 13 submissions this year.

Thirteen students, majoring in chemistry, physics, astronomy, molecular biology and biochemistry, biology, neuroscience and behavior, psychology, and quantitative analysis submitted images for the 2021 Scientific Imaging Contest.

At first glance, a viewer sees a single image of pink-tinted cubes, resembling a bacteria culture from high school biology.

But upon closer examination, the viewer begins to see a series of other shapes—triangles to hexahedrons to tetahexahedraons (cubes with four-sided pyramids on each face).

“If you stare at this image for a while, you can see that it’s actually a series of five images in the top row, and five images on the bottom row, and each of these images show us nanoparticles that are made of gold and copper,” said Brian Northrop, professor of chemistry. “It’s intriguing, captivating, and visually very interesting.”

The image, which depicts bimetallic gold-copper (Au-Cu) nanoparticles synthesized with varying concentrations and amounts of sodium iodide, was created by Jessica Luu ’24 using a scanning electron microscope. It also was the first place winner in Wesleyan’s 2021 Scientific Imaging Contest.

Jessica Luu

Jessica Luu ’24 took first place with a series of 10 images of bimetallic gold-copper (Au-Cu) nanoparticles synthesized with varying concentrations and amounts of sodium iodide. They were imaged using a scanning electron microscope (SEM).

The annual contest, spearheaded by Wesleyan’s College of Integrative Sciences, encourages students to submit images and descriptions of the research that they’ve been conducting over the summer.

Wesleyan Facilities, Custodial Staff Celebrated through Performance

Rivera and Porquillo worked together, wiping down tables and vacuuming floors. They began with just introducing themselves

Last spring, Tamara Rivera ’21 job shadowed SMG employee Maria Porquillo, who has worked for more than two decades at Olin Library. Once a week, Rivera met Porquillo at the library to observe her movements and rhythms, and ultimately choreographed a piece for Porquillo to perform on stage. This fall, students will participate in a similar multidisciplinary dance project titled “WesWorks.”

Every day the workers of Wesleyan’s facilities staff labor to keep the University going in the most fundamental ways. Their work can often be invisible but without properly ventilated performance spaces, clean laboratories, and functional classrooms, just to give a few examples, the University would grind to a halt.

An upcoming multidisciplinary dance project titled “WesWorks” takes the rituals and movements of their days and creates choreography that transforms the ordinary, mundane, and skillful movements of work into a performance accompanied by live, original music and stories told in the workers’ voices. The performance will take place outdoors on Andrus Field in mid-October.

“I hope the community leaves with an elevated understanding of what our staff does. This is a celebration of our employees and a recognition of a workforce that’s often not recognized,” said Jennifer Calienes, interim director of Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts.

“Wesworks” builds on seven years of Forklift Danceworks’ engagement with Wesleyan through the College of the Environment and the Center for the Arts and was developed through a series of residencies and intensive course collaborations over the past year and a half.  During the Spring 2021 semester, students job shadowed facilities workers, learning just what it took to the keep the campus running smoothly.

Mikaela Marcotullio ’23 job shadowed SMG employee Lloyd Jones in Usdan University Center.

This fall, Allison Orr, the choreographer and artistic director of Forklift Danceworks, distinguished fellow in the College of Environment, will teach her ENVS376 course—The Artist in the Community: Civic Engagement and Collaborative Dancemaking from which students will learn techniques of community art practice and help develop and support the “WesWorks” performance.

Shu Tokita Prize Winners Reid ’22, Choi ’22 Use Literature to Cope with POC Experiences

tokita

East Asian studies major Jasmyn Choi ’22, at left, and English and African American studies double major Jada Reid ’22 are the recipients of the 2021 Shu Tokita Prize, established by friends and relatives of Shu Tokita ’84. The prize is awarded annually to a student of color majoring in literature, in area studies, or a language major with a focus on literature, who demonstrates financial need. They received their awards during a virtual reception on June 23. 

Jasmyn Choi ’22 vividly recalls when her Korean-born mother was pulled over by police in Los Angeles 12 years ago. Rather than speaking to the driver, who had broken English, the officer leaned into the vehicle to question 8-year-old Jasmyn instead. Jasmyn, after all, had “perfect” English.

“I’ve always dealt with the particular trauma of strangers diminishing my mother’s intelligence because of her accent,” Choi recalls. “I tremble in anger thinking of the times she’s had her voice stolen from her. We both sat in the car in oppressive silence, yet it was comforting because silence is all we have been trained to know.”

Growing up in a white flight suburb, Choi grew accustomed to overt and covert racism, and most recently, tried to comfort her mother’s insecurities about not feeling safe due to comments made about the “Chinese virus.” As Asian women, Choi says, “the depth of our pain is an immense chasm from which to fall deeper and deeper into. We are trapped in the eternal, isolating birdcage of ourselves.”

Restored Peacock Displayed in Wesleyan’s Science Library

peacock

The entrance to the Science Library in Exley Science Center houses a taxidermied peacock that has been restored by faculty and students in the biology department. The peacock, originally rediscovered in 2018 and put on exhibit in spring 2019, is part of a bird collection that was first displayed at the museum in Judd Hall and now belongs to the Wesleyan Museum of Natural History.

The restoration team, which includes Professor of Biology Ann Campbell Burke, Yu Kai Tan BA/MA ’21, Andy Tan ’21, and Fletcher Levy ’23, recently updated the display to include new signage and fresh peacock feathers from biology professors Stephen Devoto and Joyce Ann Powzyk’s farm.

“It was found in storage alongside a whole bunch of minerals in Room 316 of Exley,” Yu Kai Tan said. “It was sitting way up high on this shelf, and probably since 1970, no one has looked at it or touched it. It was covered in dust and muck.”

When the team first found the peacock, it was in such poor condition that they needed to call for outside help.

73 Seniors Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Kat Eaton '21

Phi Beta Kappa inductee Kat Eaton ’21 plans to work as an editor at a ghostwriting company while applying to creative writing programs at graduate schools.

During her four years at Wesleyan, Katherine “Kat” Eaton ’21 not only fell in love with creative writing, but she also discovered interests in martial arts, fire spinning, and tabletop roleplaying games—Dungeons & Dragons, Monster of the Week, Masks, and more. “Basically, I’m a storyteller, whether that’s on my own or with other people,” Eaton explained.

Eaton, who graduated on May 26 with honors for her English thesis titled “Myths and Legends of Aetheria: A Study in Worldbuilding,” is also among only 88 students from the Class of 2021 to graduate with Phi Beta Kappa honors.

On May 24, she and 72 of her peers were inducted into the Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa during a virtual ceremony. At Wesleyan, only 12 percent of each graduating class is elected to PBK, the oldest national scholastic honor society. Election is based on fulfilling general education expectations and having a grade point average of 93 or above.

Students are nominated by their major departments or class dean.

Barnes ’22, Du ’22 Receive ASBMB Undergraduate Research Award

Lily Barnes ’22 and Amy Du ’22 are recipients of the 2021 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Undergraduate Research Award. They will each receive $1,000 to support summer project research. Both students are members of Wesleyan’s ASBMB chapter.

Barnes works in the lab of Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Teresita Padilla-Benavides, and Du works in the lab of Fisk Professor of Natural Science and Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Ishita Mukerji.

Following the research Barnes and Du conduct in their respective labs, each will submit a report to the ASBMB summarizing their findings.

Wesleyan Awards the 2021 Hamilton Prize for Creativity

Audrey Nelson ’25 is the recipient of the 2021 Hamilton Prize for Creativity, which comes with a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Wesleyan University.

Audrey Nelson ’25, of Bainbridge Island, Washington, is the recipient of the 2021 Hamilton Prize for Creativity, which comes with a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Wesleyan University.

For the fifth consecutive year, Wesleyan University has awarded its prestigious Hamilton Prize for Creativity to three students whose creative written works best reflect the originality, artistry, and dynamism of Hamilton: An American Musical, created by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and directed by Thomas Kail ’99.

Audrey Nelson ’25 of Bainbridge Island, Washington, was awarded the grand prize—a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Wesleyan. Nelson was recognized for her work of prose titled “Complications.”

Nolan Lewis of Washington, D.C., for his collection of songs/spoken word,

Nolan Lewis ’25, of Washington, D.C., received a $5,000 honorable mention stipend.

“Audrey’s ‘Complications’ was delightful and surprising at every turn: in structure, in subject matter, in its evocative language,” Miranda said. “I wanted to read more from this writer immediately.”

Alumni judge Craig Thomas ’97, co-creator of the TV sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” favored the “poignant magical realism” of Nelson’s prose. “The piece was impressionistic, spare, and quite moving, which is hard to do for a writer of any age, much less someone so young,” Thomas said.

In addition, Wesleyan awarded two $5,000 stipends to honorable mentions winners Nolan Lewis ’25 of Washington, D.C., for his collection of songs/spoken word, and Cecilio Munoz ’25 of Worcester, Massachusetts, for a screenplay titled “The Greatest Generation.”

The winning works were chosen from a pool of 345 submissions. Faculty members reviewed the initial entries, after which an all-star selection committee of Wesleyan alumni in the arts, chaired by Miranda and Kail, chose the finalists.

Cecilio Munoz ’25, of Worcester, Massachusetts, received a $5,000 honorable mention stipend.

After reading Lewis’s lyrics, actress Beanie Feldstein ’15 was confident that “this kid is going to be a star one day.” Said Feldstein, “It feels like Nolan’s music seamlessly enters the world, like a magic spell with thought-provoking, clever and impactful lyrics and rhymes.” And marketing guru Bozoma Saint John ’99 found Munoz’s “heart-warming” screenplay “captured the impact and confusion of childhood trauma really well, while relating to the reader.”

The Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity was established in 2016 in honor of Miranda and Kail’s contributions to liberal education and the arts and named for the pair’s hit Broadway musical, which won 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Book, and Best Original Score.

Over the past five years, more than 2,300 students have submitted stories, poetry, songs, plays, and screenplays for consideration for the prize. Read about past winners in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Learn more about the Hamilton Prize.

Students Receive 2021 Academic Prizes, Scholarships, Fellowships

monogramThis month, the Office of Student Affairs presented the 2021 student prizes. The recipients and awards include:

George H. Acheson and Grass Foundation Prize in Neuroscience

Established in 1992 by a gift from the Grass Foundation, this prize is awarded to an outstanding undergraduate in the Neuroscience and Behavior Program who demonstrates excellence in the program and who also shows promise for future contributions in the field of neuroscience.

  • Kian Caplan 2021
  • Ana Finnerty-Haggerty 2021
  • Andrew Northrop 2021
  • Fitzroy “Pablo” Wickham 2021

Alumni Prize in the History of Art

Established by Wesleyan alumni and awarded to a senior who has demonstrated special aptitude in the history of art and who has made a substantive contribution to the major.

  • Nia Felton 2021
  • Riley Richards 2021

American Chemical Society Analytical Award

Awarded for excellence in analytical chemistry.

  • Cole Harris 2021

American Chemical Society Connecticut Valley Section Award

Awarded for outstanding achievement to a graduating chemistry major.

  • Emma Shapiro 2021

American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Inorganic Chemistry

Awarded to an undergraduate student in inorganic chemistry to recognize achievement and encourage further study in the field.

  • Abrar Habib 2021

American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry

Awarded to a senior who has displayed a significant aptitude for organic chemistry

  • Niels Vizgan GRAD

American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Physical Chemistry

Awarded in recognition of outstanding achievement by undergraduate students in physical chemistry, and to encourage further pursuits in the field.