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  • 'Outsider' in at film festivals

    A French language film submitted by writer/director Eleanor Levine ’18 and produced by a Wheaton class has won admission to four film festivals across the country.

    A French language film shot on campus for a Wheaton class is making the rounds at festivals throughout the country.

    Eleanor “Ellie” Levine ’18 wrote and directed the French New Wave film, “Dance of the Outsider,” this fall. The film featured student actors and was produced by students in Assistant Professor of Filmmaking Patrick Johnson’s "Film Production II" class. It also brought in students from Professor of French Studies Kirk Anderson’s translation class to assist with translating the script and writing subtitles.

    Levine produced a final cut of the film that she submitted to 38 festivals.

    As of April 19, the film had been accepted to four festivals, including the Alhambra Theatre Film Festival in Evansville, Ind., where it was nominated for the Best College Student Film award, and the web-based Depth of Field International Film Festival, where it won two third place awards for acting and the overall film. It also earned admission to the Reality Bytes Independent Student Film Festival at Northern Illinois University and the New Haven International Film Festival in New Haven, Conn.

    “This film came with the most challenges I've faced so far on a set of mine, because the scale was much larger than my others, but I ended up being surprisingly satisfied with the final product,” Levine said. “Everyone put so much into it, and I think it really showed.”

    “Dance of the Outsider” stars native French speakers Ibrahim Nshimirimana ’19, from Burundi, and Clara Colas ’19, from Paris, France. It’s set in 1960s France and tells the story of “two outsiders from different worlds, meeting through forces of nature,” as the director put it.

    Levine, a film and new media studies major who interned last summer with Auspicious Phoenix Productions LLC in Somerville, Mass., already has her next project lined up. This summer, she will work for independent documentary filmmaker Julia Mintz in western Massachusetts. Next fall, her senior year, she will be studying film and television in London.

    “When I return [from the U.K.], I plan to do a thesis film. The film will hopefully be a short, dark comedy musical (with original music of mine). I just hope I will have enough time and resources to do it,” Levine said.

  • Insider advice

    Career Services Director Lisa Gavigan ’83 shares job search tips in a series of Monster.com articles aimed at graduating college seniors.

    Career Services Director Lisa Gavigan '83 P'18 is featured alongside other experts in a series of Monster.com articles posted this spring that offer career advice for college students.

    The job search website reached out to college counselors seeking tips to help graduating seniors find first jobs, and Gavigan—who manages Wheaton’s Career Services in the Filene Center—had a few words of wisdom to share.

    “How can college seniors decide which jobs to apply for?” one article in the series asks. Advice includes narrowing down a career path and taking advantage of resources before graduation, along with Gavigan’s recommendation:

    “Students will often search job databases by job titles, but they should consider searching by job functions instead. For example, search for jobs that call for ‘project management’ or ‘quantitative investigation.’ Using that strategy, they might find rewarding work in an industry they never considered,” she says.

    Another piece looks at how students can leverage internship experiences to find their first job. Gavigan suggests that interns attend as many professional gatherings and staff meetings as possible.

    “Not only will you learn a great deal about the organization, which will serve you well when drafting a cover letter and participating in interviews, but you’ll also be better able to determine if this is, in fact, the best next step for your career development,” she says in the Monster.com article, which also was picked up by Fast Company.

    A third article narrows in on resumes, offering tips to help soon-to-be graduates lift theirs to the top of the pile.

    Gavigan’s advice here is simple, but useful: “Don’t wait.”

    “Depending upon the industry, most seniors apply for jobs in early March, interview through April and May and start their new position sometime over the summer,” she says, suggesting seniors make time in their busy academic schedules for the job application process.

    The fourth piece in the series shares a few networking strategies, including Gavigan’s recommendation that students reach out to college alumnae/i

    “Alumni working in your target organizations may be able to act as ‘recruitment advisors’ and provide company-specific advice about resume content or interview formats,” she says in the article.

    Wheaton seniors can find a variety of job search resources at Career Services—including access to more than 400 alumnae/i career partners, who are available for informational interviews as well as advice about industry resumés.

    “We also offer funding for seniors to attend career-related conferences, giving students an opportunity to participate in programming and network with leading professionals in their fields of interests,” Gavigan says. “When granted a job interview, students can arrange for a mock interview, perfecting their answers to some of the most difficult of interview questions. All of this preparation will no doubt lead to a job offer and, when that comes, students can review their benefits and learn how to negotiate their salaries with a career advisor.”

    Students can make an appointment with a career advisor by visiting the Filene Center or calling the center at 508-286-8215.

  • Stage mama

    Rose Weaver ’73 is bringing her one-woman show Menopause Mama to stages in and around Providence, R.I., throughout the month of March.

    Rose Weaver ’73 is bringing her one-woman show back to the local stage, performing "Menopause Mama" in Providence, R.I. throughout the month of March.

    The 70-minute musical and comedy show, which originally opened in 2002 with sold-out shows at the Perishable Theatre in Providence, features a cast of characters—all played by Weaver—who cope with menopause and other aspects of aging.

    "Even today most people choose not to speak about the change of life and sweep their questions and concerns under the rug," Weaver told the Cranston Herald. "'Menopause Mama' is here to tell them we’re not buying into society’s negative images about growing older.”

    Among the fans of the show is women’s health expert Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of The Wisdom of Menopause and other books on women’s health. Northrup called the show “a wonderful theatrical experience regardless of whether or not you have any interest in menopause and whether or not you’re female,” the Cranston Herald reported.

    An actress, singer and playwright with almost 30 years of experience, Weaver took a hiatus from performing several years ago and is returning to the stage with this revival of "Menopause Mama."

    She performed the show March 5 at the Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island and will be at the Pot au Feu Salon in Providence on March 21–25, among other locations.

    Weaver holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Wheaton as well as a master’s in fine arts in creative writing from Brown University. She has performed on stage and in TV shows and films, including in the 1988 film "The Accused," starring Jodie Foster.

  • Decoding party lines

    Joshua Steele Kelly ’17 surveys voters in the 2015 and 2016 elections about their views of third party candidates.

    A Wheaton senior active in hometown politics wants to know what motivates voters to either follow party lines or choose a third-party candidate, so he’s turning to the source to find out.

    Joshua Steele Kelly ’17, a political science major from Waterford, Conn., where he is co-chairman of the Waterford Green Party and serves as an alternate on the Zoning Board of Appeals and Conservation Commission, recently released the results of two exit polls he conducted during the 2015 and 2016 elections, local newspaper The Day reported. His full paper on the topic is available on the Waterford Green Party website.

    “I first came up with the idea for the surveys in my Introduction to Research Methods course, where we were tasked with conducting research by compiling quantitative data on a subject of our choice,” Kelly said. “As a member of the Green Party, and as someone who was running for office at the time, I was very interested in learning about voting trends.”

    He conducted the first survey on Election Day in November 2015 at a precinct in his hometown, posing a list of questions that explored the personal factors that might influence a person to choose a third party candidate. He polled more than 490 voters.

    Inspired by those results, and by the traction being made during the 2016 presidential election by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, Kelly decided to extend his study another year. He began an independent study with Assistant Professor of Political Science Brad Bishop and conducted a similar survey in Waterford on November 8, 2016, reaching more than 480 voters.

    Survey results showed that even though many voters tended to be biased in favor of either the Democratic or Republican parties, the issues they found most important were an integral part of third party platforms.

    Kelly said he hoped his study could help those who are working to promote a multi-party system in the United States.

    “I believe these results provide a sort of window into the kinds of voters that third parties are effectively reaching through advertisements and social media, but the study also reveals the kinds of people that have not become as captivated by the idea of multi-party democracy, which may be seen as untapped potential to these groups,” he said.

    He also sees the study as useful to voters and hopes it will help citizens realize how closely their viewpoints may align with the Green or Libertarian parties, which in turn could help them overcome “their own insecurities” about voting for a minor party.

    The results also could benefit the leadership of the two major parties, Kelly said, highlighting a “disconnect between public opinion and their current platforms.”

    Kelly said he hopes to continue his survey during the next several election cycles.

  • Inaugural honor

    Alumna shares her experience attending 2017 presidential inaugural ball.

    JF_DC_Award

    Jennifer Field '00 and Carolyn Johnstone Grierer '96

    Jennifer Field ’00 attended the 2017 All American Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C. on January 19, as an honoree receiving an All American Hero award for her contributions to the field of brain health and research. Field is founder and president of The J Field Foundation, which raises funds to support people who have had brain injuries.

    Field attended the ball with close friend and fellow alumna Carolyn Johnstone Grierer ’96 as well as her mother, Joanne Field (co-author of her memoir), and her uncle and his fiancée. She called the experience “one of the most thrilling nights of my life” and shared some photos from the event, as well as the following write-up, which she crafted for her local newspaper, the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript:

    I was invited to the All American Inaugural Ball on Jan. 19, 2017, honoring heroes, in Washington, D.C. I was so thrilled to be selected as one of their honored guests. The focus of the ball this year was in the field of brain health and research. Understanding and enhancing brain function is a bold new frontier.

    Part of the invitation read,

    'We are proud to honor a few individuals who have dedicated their lives to educating, inspiring and motivating others to make the most of their brains and their lives.'

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Driving in to the event, we passed the Capitol, all lit up in the darkness, looking very majestic. I began to feel so humbled, realizing this was such an incredible honor. I was about to be presented with a hero award for my work with traumatic brain injury.

    I arrived at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, and was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of people and the long lines. Thank goodness I was met almost immediately by my handler, SueAnne, and whisked away to a VIP room. I felt I was in a dream, because there I was, with Buzz Aldrin and Oliver North. Soon we were being given instructions on what would happen and how to make our way through the crowd to the stage. Before I knew it, there I was holding hands with Kate Ortman, also an honoree, making my way though hundreds of people to the stage.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    As I stood there, on the stage, waiting for my name to be called, I had that similar rush of excitement that I used to feel as I rode into the ring as an equestrian competitor. I was about to be honored by Alvaro Fernandez, and I truly felt that I had won the blue ribbon.

    That was one of the most thrilling nights of my life, and I will never forget it. I want to thank everyone who contributed to and gave me this wonderful moment.

  • American hero

    Wheaton alumna Jennifer Field ’00 will be honored at the 2017 All American Inaugural Ball.

    Wheaton alumna Jennifer Field ’00 will be honored as an American hero at the 2017 All American Inaugural Ball on January 19, sharing the stage with astronaut Buzz Aldrin and nine other distinguished citizens.

    Field is founder and president of The J Field Foundation, which raises funds to help people with brain injuries access alternative therapies. The foundation also recently partnered with the Veterans Equine Therapeutic Services of Connecticut to provide healing therapeutic services to veterans.

    The field of brain health and research is one of the areas of focus for the 2017 All American Inaugural Ball, according to the ball website.

    Field and her peers are being honored with a 2017 All American Hero award for their “outstanding and tireless work” in civic service at the Washington, D.C., event, which celebrates the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States. Aldrin will receive the All American Hero Lifetime Achievement Award.

    According to a summary of her accomplishments on the ball website: “Jennifer Field exemplifies the character of a hero. She worked tirelessly and relentlessly for years to overcome her own challenges, and then made her life’s work all about helping others to do the same.”

    Field was seventeen years old when she was involved in a near fatal car accident that left her in a coma and with severe brain damage. She spent a decade undergoing numerous therapies and treatments, many not covered by insurance, to regain her physical independence. She graduated magna cum laude from Wheaton in 2000 with a major in art history.

    Field recently published a book about her experience. From Blue Ribbon To Code Blue: A Girl’s Courage, Her Mother’s Love, A Miracle Recovery was released in October 2016 through Baughan Publishing LLC.

    Professor of Art History Evelyn Staudinger, who was one of Field's mentors at Wheaton and remains a friend, discusses in the book Field's determination throughout her recovery and as she worked toward her degree at Wheaton.

    "Jen lives beautifully in the present. When things in my life are difficult, I always think about how she created a new world for herself—with emphasis on the word 'created,'" Staudinger said. "And she has not only made herself a better person, but others become better for having known her."

  • Best value

    Wheaton makes Kiplinger’s 2017 list of colleges that combine quality and affordability.

    Wheaton College has been recognized as a “best value” college in Kiplinger’s 2017 list of the 300 Best Value Colleges and Universities.

    In compiling the list, Kiplinger’s considers tuition costs, financial aid opportunities, educational efficiency and future earning potential, according to an article published in the Providence Business News.

    Based in Washington, D.C., Kiplinger’s produces a weekly business forecast, The Kiplinger Letter, and a monthly magazine, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, as well as the annual Best Value Colleges and Universities list. Institutions are selected “based on quality and affordability,” according to the Kiplinger’s website.

    For the 2015–16 academic year, Wheaton students received about $41.4 million in need-based financial aid, as well as $6.5 million in merit-based awards. Students also graduated with less debt than the average among other colleges in Massachusetts, according to data from the Office of Student Financial Services.

    In a survey distributed among Wheaton graduates six months out, 97 percent reported finding success after college—including 63 percent employed, 22 percent enrolled in graduate school and the remaining 13 percent engaged in volunteer service, prestigious fellowships or internships. (These numbers include respondents from the classes of 2014 and 2015. Class of 2016 results are expected early in 2017.)

  • Dashing Sounds of the Season Sounds of the season

    Music professor Delvyn Case’s original composition “Rocket Sleigh” is featured on a new compilation CD and is making the rounds at orchestra concerts this holiday season.

    It’s that time of year again—the holiday season—and Delvyn Case’s original composition “Rocket Sleigh” is making the rounds once more among orchestras across the United States and beyond.

    Included in that list is the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine, just a few miles away from where the Wheaton associate professor of music grew up. In an article published recently by Maine Today, Case recalled attending performances by the Portland orchestra as a child and enjoying in particular the whip sound in the song “Sleigh Ride,” which he said helped inspire his own composition.

    “This piece has filled a real niche,” Case told the magazine of “Rocket Sleigh,” which he completed in 2009. “Almost every orchestra does a holiday family show, and they’re all looking for new material. This is perfect for them, because it’s not a medley or a new arrangement. It’s a new piece.”

    More than 60 orchestras have performed “Rocket Sleigh” since 2009, including the National Symphony, Toronto Symphony and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

    Twelve orchestras are scheduled to perform the composition during the 2016 holiday season, and the piece is part of the lineup for the touring acrobatics show Cirque de la Symphonie, according to a recent writeup in the Boston Globe South.

    Wheaton's concert band, the Southeastern Massachusetts Wind Symphony, also performed the band version of "Rocket Sleigh" earlier this fall.

    In addition, Case’s composition is featured on a new CD released in September by Navona Records. Titled Dashing: Sounds of the Season, the compliation features new works, like Case’s, and new arrangements of old holiday favorites. It includes performances by The Stanbery Singers, the Salt Lake City Jazz Orchestra and the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, which performs “Rocket Sleigh.”

    Case received funding support from Wheaton for his share of the Dashing project.

    Case said he likes that “Rocket Sleigh” reaches a broad audience, as often the holiday concert is the only orchestra performance a person might attend all year.

    “My piece gets to be an ambassador for orchestral music in a small way—possibly encouraging some people to attend more frequently and to make classical music a larger part of their lives,” he said.

  • Presidents to president-elect

    President Hanno and other college presidents urge President-elect Trump to forcefully speak out against hate and violence.

    A group of 110 college presidents, including Wheaton President Dennis M. Hanno, issued a joint letter to President-elect Donald Trump, urging him "to condemn and work to prevent the harassment, hate and acts of violence that are being perpetrated across our nation, sometimes in your name ...."

    The letter was published on Friday, Nov. 14, by Inside Higher Education, a web-based news organization that covers higher education. President Hanno and his colleagues at campuses across the country said the message to President-elect Trump is intentionally non-partisan in nature.

    "As an institution and a community, Wheaton values diversity, inclusion and a civil and respectful exchange of ideas and perspectives. That's central to our academic mission," President Hanno said. "I want for our country what we have worked so hard to develop here on our campus—an open and inclusive environment, welcoming to people from all backgrounds and traditions."

    President Hanno has been active in advocating for respectful dialogue in civic life and in speaking out on the importance of diversity and inclusion. Earlier in the year, the Washington Post published an essay he wrote that illuminated the divisive nature of much public discourse. He also has been active in permitting these ideas on campus, leading the launch of Wheaton's "Building Community Together" campaign now in its second year.

    Students, faculty and staff at the college also have been responding to recent events with calls for greater understanding and civility, including the ongoing Community Conversation series of lectures and panels organized by the Provost's Office. Most recently, the campus hosted a  “Take a Stand Against Hate and Rally for Peace,” which was organized by the Office of Service, Spirituality and Social Responsibility, the Council on Inclusion and Diversity, and the Student Government Association.

     

  • Thirteen-year-old Chris Strynar, pictured during a recent interview on ABC, is taking a physics course at Wheaton College. Talent for numbers

    A Norton eighth grader with advanced mathematical skills is taking classes at Wheaton and Harvard toward a liberal arts degree.

    Local eighth grader Chris Strynar is getting a head start on his college education by attending classes at Wheaton.

    The thirteen-year-old from Norton, Mass., discovered an early talent for mathematics and a passion for the subject, leading him to pursue academics at the college level starting in fifth grade, when he took courses at nearby Bristol Community College, according to a recent piece in The Sun Chronicle. He was just 10 years old.

    His dad, Chris Strynar Sr., told the newspaper that he first noticed his son’s mathematical abilities when the boy was in kindergarten.

    "We used to play little math games with him, and noticed he had some ability," Strynar Sr. said. "One day when we all got in the car for a short trip, he blurted out 'teach me multiplication.'"

    By the end of the car ride, his son was easily working multiplication problems, Strynar Sr. said.

    This fall, the teen is taking a physics class with Wheaton Professor John Collins, as well as an advanced mathematics course at Harvard University. According to his dad, Strynar has already earned 28 credits toward a college degree and is on track to complete it by the age of 16.

    Interviewed by WCVB Channel 5 on Tuesday evening, Professor Collins said the teen was doing well in his class.

    “He seems to enjoy the work. And I think that's the key. When you enjoy the work, it's not work anymore,” Collins said.