Celebrating Students 2013: Eric Stephen


This summer I interned with the Pennsylvania Diversity Network (PDN), Pennsylvania’s largest LGBTQ rights organization. Since Pennsylvania has no state law that protects its residents from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, PDN has proved instrumental in passing local laws, making Pennsylvania the state with the most inclusive local laws but no state law. During my time at PDN, I focused largely on non-discrimination policy reform and legislative action. I spent a large amount of my time going to pride festivals and getting attendees to sign letters to their federal legislators to support a battery of bills currently in Congress that would aid non-discrimination reform—from passing ENDA, to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and restrictive immigration policies.

A secondary focus of my internship was a photo project called “575 Same-Sex Couples: Facing Inequality,” which gave a face to Pennsylvanians who are discriminated against due to the lack of inclusive state laws concerning discrimination and marriage equality. For the project, PDN photographed couples exclusively from the Lehigh Valley area (where we are centrally located) and tabulated data about the couples, such as the number who have raised children or work as medical professionals, just to name a few. For the project, I worked principally at recruiting couples at pride festivals as well as editing and framing the photographs. Currently, the photo project is being featured at Bucks County Community College in hopes of aiding judiciary action in the area.

Before leaving home, I began the process of reforming my old school district’s non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Though this process could take up to a school year to fully reform, I am optimistic that these changes will be implemented and that LGBTQ students at my old school will never need face the same type of discrimination that I had to face growing up in Pennsylvania.

Celebrating Students 2013!

We want to celebrate your accomplishments and achievements!

If you did something this summer about which you are proud or that was a real learning experience, let me know!  If one of your  Wes friends did, let me know!  Whether it was related to work, travel, school, an internship or a special event, let’s get it up on “Celebrating Students,” the virtual column that showcases and shares your experience.  How cool is that?

Dean Brown

Welcome to 46 Sophomore Transfers!

The Deans’ Office has been busy preparing for your arrival and that of the new students—both first-years and transfers. 

There are 46 new sophomore transfers joining the Class of 2013!

They are coming from countries as far away as India, China and Italy and from states as diverse as Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Wisconsin, Hawaii and Maine.  Transferring from schools such as Georgetown, Cornell, Johns Hopkins,Colgate, Tulane, Vanderbilt, UPenn and Bard, these students have a wide range of interests in–to name but a few–physics, the environment and NS&B, in writing and literature, in painting and architecture, in music and film, and in politics and economics.

They are an accomplished group and will contribute much to the vitality and diversity of the Class of 2013!

Prizes and Awards Recipients in the Class of 2013 — Congratulations!

Congratulations to the following first-year students for their academic and leadership accomplishments!

Katherine Marcus 2013Ayres Prize:  The gift of Daniel Ayres, Class of 1842, to the first-year student who attains the highest academic standing in the first semester.

James Gardner 2013 — Blankenagel Prize:  From the John C. Blankenagel Fund, established in 1970, awarded at the discretion of the Department of German studies to enrich educational offerings in the area of humanistic studies, or to assist a superior student in completing a project in German studies.

Miriam Kwietniewska 2013Chadbourne Prize:  The gift of George Storrs Chadbourne, Class of 1858, to that member of the first-year class outstanding in character, conduct, and scholarship.

Rebecca Coven 2013, Piers Gelly 2013, Shelley Miller 2013, Marina Reza 2013, Benjamin Soloway 2013Cole Prize:  Established through the gift of George Henry Walker, Class of 1981, in the memory of Charles Edward Cole. Awarded to the first-year student who shows the greatest ability in fiction or nonfiction writing.

Chuqiao Dong 2013, Scott Greene 2013CRC Award:  Awarded to an outstanding first-year chemistry student, based on grades in organic chemistry over the interval of the current academic year.

Joseph O’Donnell 2013First-Year Leadership Award:  Awarded to a first-year student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership or involvement in the Wesleyan community.

Alexa Chiappetta 2013, Hyunjin Cho 2013, Valerie Eldridge 2013Susan Frazer Prize:  Awarded annually to the student (or students) who has done the most distinguished work in the elementary and intermediate French language sequence.

Guy Geyer 2013, Huitao Zhu 2013Johnston Prize:  The gift of David George Downey, Class of 1884, in memory of Professor John Johnston. Awarded to those first-year students or sophomores whose performance in their first two semesters of physics shows exceptional promise.

Chen-chi Chien 2013, Azra Horowitz 2013, Naixi Wang 2013Sherman Prize―MathEstablished by David Sherman, D.D., Class of 1872. Two prizes awarded annually, one for excellence in first-year mathematics and the other for excellence in classics.

Celebrating Students 2013: SALD Awards to 2013’ers!

The Student Activities and Leadership Development Awards recognize students’ contributions to the Wesleyan community across a variety of activities. 

CONGRATULATIONS to the following first-year recipients!

Student Organization of the Year Award “recognizes a student organization that has excelled in sustaining leadership, an active membership and programmatic efforts that contribute to the larger Wesleyan Community.” 

2013 Class Council

members  (l to r):  Michael Zazzaro, Gladys Sosa, Patrick Chiarawongse, Rebecca Coven, Katie Schad, Lan Chi Le, Lily Kaplan, Ural Grant, Leah Koenig, Bing Wu     Not Present:  Emily Berman, Sydney Hausman-Cohen, Adam Rashkoff, Vivianne Swerdlow, Lily Voravong


First-year Student Leadership Award is ”presented to a student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership or involvement in the Wesleyan community.”

Joseph O’Donnell 


Mosaic Award “recognizes the contribution(s) of a student organization that has raised campus awareness through educational initiatives on issues of identity, culture and social justice.”  

Wesleyan Students for Disability Rights–Lucas San Juan, a first-year member 



Celebrating Students ’13: Malik Ben-Salahuddin

Black History Month Convocation Speech — January 31, 2010

IMG_1644I could stand here and philosophize about the implications of Black History Month, what we should do to promote solidarity, and pump my fist in the air. This would only be ironic, as I’d be acting out a personality that would be just that: pulled tight and full of hot air.  I’ve always tried to keep it real and not get caught up in ‘ABC movement’ or ‘XYZ movement’ because half of the people in them end up being full of hot air; a whole lot of gust with no direction.  In short, I’m simple, and I can only speak on the simple life I lead at Wesleyan.

One of the best times of my day is sweeping up hair from my large blue tarp. This is partly due to the fact that I can’t stand a dirty room and it bugs me when dust has the audacity to set up camp in my corner of the room. But nonetheless, I love sweeping up hair, because it means I just sent someone on their way with a new look, a new opportunity to present themselves.  As an apprentice barber I’ve seen a lot of heads. But somehow I’m still fascinated by the change I see in people from pre- to post-haircut. There is this aura that seems to spring up as they look into the mirror and see a new person.

Now, I know black folk love their hair. We love to cut it, shape it, curl it, straighten it, pick it out, comb it, brush it, wrap it, set it and wash it, and for those who can afford new clothes everyday, Jeri curl it. Our obsession with our follicles has spawned controversy and multi-billion dollar industries, and I admit I am apart of that love-hate divide. 

But I err on the side of love. I love black hair. I do cut every type of hair, but I get a special feeling from cutting black hair. As a smorgasbord of a people, each black person’s head out there is different. And like a scientist, I enjoy discovering new species. With a customer’s request and my battery of tools and gadgets, I work away in my lab; the barbershop.  I comb, brush, fade, line, clip, straighten, and tease the hair to bend to my will creating something new that conforms to my customer’s vision.

With my research work done and my payment received, I feel as though, in my small way, I am supporting ‘a movement.’ Black folk’s grooming has always been tied deep into our culture, especially in our recent history here as African-Americans. The barbershop or the salon is the place of grooming, the CNN of the neighborhood, the gates from childhood to adulthood, and ultimately a pillar in the community.  I’m not claiming my measly ad-hoc ‘shop is something so monumental. But I do think that by servicing our brothers and sisters on campus, I’m helping support the SOC community at Wesleyan. 

It’s funny what big thoughts come into your mind when you’re obsessively sweeping the floor…

Celebrating Students 2013: Lan Chi Le

In summer 2009, a group of friends and I from VietAbroader, a network for Vietnamese students living abroad, IMG_1640organized a conference on U.S. higher education. Our aim is to make Vietnamese students more aware of educational opportunities in the U.S. as great alternatives to Vietnamese colleges, which focus on rote learning and restrict students’ intellectual freedom.  We also aimed to introduce them to free and reliable sources of information on U.S. education, helping them avoid unethical education agencies in Vietnam. We fundraised more than $20,000 to organize the conference in the two biggest cities in Vietnam, and funded poor students and parents in rural areas to attend our conference.

At that time, I was only a high school graduate. Yet, in the role of the conference director, I had to contact executives from top companies in Vietnam, and sometimes meet them face to face to negotiate and sign sponsorship contracts, some of which are worth thousands of dollars. I had to organize a press conference and talk to many journalists. I was terrified. I usually had to arrive 15 minutes ahead of the meeting time to allow myself some time to calm down. The only thing that kept me going was the conviction that what I was doing would be beneficial for future generations of Vietnamese students, and that I should not quit and abandon my teammates. I learned how to pretend that I was brave when I was not, and gradually that pretension became true (or I simply became more thick-skinned, either way it worked out). The conference also gave me opportunities to interact with many students from many parts of Vietnam and opened my eyes to the problems they were facing, which has given me ideas and inspiration for future projects.

Here is the link to an article written on our conference:   http://www.vnciem.gov.vn/en/detail.php?iCat=40&module=news&iData=3436&page=38.

Celebrating Students 2013: Dan Nass

Over the summer of 2008, I participated in a young filmmakers program at Maine Media Workshops, where I had the opportunity to learn about the craft of filmmaking with other students as well as professional filmmakers. I knew from IMG_1621the beginning of the workshop that I wanted my final project to be a documentary, and after investigating a variety of subjects around Rockport, ME, I learned about a local man named Andy Swift who made a living restoring antique fire engines. I was immediately interested, so I gave him a call. He turned out to be a far more interesting subject than I ever imagined. He was an extremely profane but good-natured guy with an incredible wealth of knowledge about fire engines. He seemed like he had been interviewed by local media maybe one time too many for his liking, but he was fun to work with and very accommodating. I spent several hours exploring and filming his enormous workshop, and then interviewed him about his trucks and his work. At the end of the day, he took me for a ride on his favorite fire truck, where I got some of the day’s best footage. My film, entitled Fire Engine Man, was a hit at the Workshops, and is now available for viewing online: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RLs_HQSlIA

Celebrating Students 2013: Dorisol Inoa and Gladys Sosa

Latin@ Affirmation Month 2009:  Looking Back, Moving Forward

 Convocation Speech–Dorisol Inoa ’13 and Gladys Sosa ’13

           Gladys:  Looking back, I realize that we all come from very different environments, and I do not mean simply different countries. I mean we all come from different neighborhoods, different religious backgrounds, and even different cultures. I am specifically looking back, though, on the social environments we spent our last four years in, well for some of us it has been longer than that.

Some of us come from high schools where Latinos were the majority of the school’s population, where Spanish dialects IMG_1625roamed the halls and where being Puerto Rican or Dominican or Mexican was the norm. Everyone had Latino pride or at least faked it to fit in. Therefore there was no need to define who the Latino community was or make a group to provide support, like Ajua Campos does.

          Dorisol:  Others come from private or boarding school where Latinos were the minority. In fact, you could count the number of Latinos in the school. There was no joking around in Spanish or sharing stories that everyone could relate to. Being Latino in school meant being different. Although you may have dreamed of having some sort of Representative Latino group in your school, you felt that there weren’t enough Latino students to successfully organize such a group, like Ajua Campos.

We won’t settle down for a silent group of Latinos. That is why we are here today, as new members of Ajua Campos because moving forward, we as Wesleyan freshman look forward to becoming a part of a group that specifically explores the roles of Latinos in our community and in the academic and professional world. We look forward to the resources that are available to us as WES students that enable us to reach out to our community. We look forward to representing our families and culture in academia.

          Gladys:  We want to be a part of a Latino community that strives to diminish the barrier between other communities and ours, created by the mindset that we are not like them. This way we may learn to freely and comfortably engage with anyone of any ethnic background. Most importantly, we look forward to learning of Ajua Campos’s past and making history in the next few years.

Finally, I am glad to say that since I have arrived on this campus, I have been welcomed by the Ajua Campos community, exposed to controversial issues surrounding our community, and inspired to make change for the better here at Wesleyan as well as in our world.



Celebrating Students 2013: Cory Meara-Bainbridge

IMG_1597This was the third summer that my youth-led community organizing education organization, The New York 2 New Orleans Coalition (NY2NO.org), led trips to post-Katrina New Orleans. This time it was bigger than ever, with 8 groups of 25 young people over July and August.  We worked with Our School At Blair Grocery (www.schoolatclairgrocery.blogspot.com) — a recently started community high school that also functions as an urban farm. Among their curriculum is a food justice unit and a Build Our Village Program, which empowers students with the physical and critical thinking skills to design and build their community as they want it.

However, as important as the work we did for the school was, we wanted to do more than just be volunteers who came and worked, and then went back to our lives. The problems that poor communities in New Orleans face — such as lack of housing, unequal public education, bad health care, and few jobs — were all present before Katrina, and were only exacerbated by the storm. What’s more, these problems exist all over the country, especially in our home in NYC. Our organization therefore trains youth organizers who can return and work on issues in their own communities. So along with handling logistics, I also got to spend this summer writing lesson plans and running workshops on organizing and anti-oppression topics.

                It is unquestionably the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done. But after three years of packed summers and other trips throughout the year, I luckily now have new young people to run the organization, and I have moved on. However, I am excited to be able to expand this work, starting with 6 Wes students, who will join Pitzer and Brooklyn College students in New Olreans this January.