Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

About Ted Nesi '07

Ted Nesi ’07, an award-winning journalist, is a digital reporter for WPRI-TV and FOX Providence at LIN Media.

Feature-Rwanda

Change makers

President Hanno, students, professors fuel entrepreneurial spirit in Africa

PrintBack when Dennis M. Hanno was growing up on an isolated farm in upstate New York, he would not have believed it if you’d told him he would one day transform the lives of teenagers in Africa. “I was a curious kid, but not about global travel,” Hanno said. “We never went anywhere.”

Fast-forward half a century, though, and talk to Jonathan Iyandemye, a 21-year-old Rwandan now attending Harvard: He’ll tell you in no uncertain terms that the efforts of Wheaton’s president have made all the difference in the world to him.

“The impact he’s had is immeasurable,” Iyandemye said recently from his home outside Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. “You can’t talk about it or write about it enough. I feel like I owe who I am to him and a few other people like him who invested in me generously and selflessly, and who believed in me and saw the potential in me.”

“And it’s not just me,” he said. “There are a lot of people out there who have had such a change from Dennis Hanno’s work. I’m just so, so grateful to him.”

[Read more...]

Leading the way, helping researchers

Their fellow attendees may not have realized it, but an event at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center last April included an impromptu meeting of two former presidents: Bill Clinton and Michael Zwolinski ’08, who was president of the Student Government Association during his senior year at Wheaton.

“It was a thrill to meet the former president,” Zwolinski said. “He’s as engaging in person as people say.”

The occasion was a fundraiser to benefit the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, with Clinton as one of the headliners. Zwolinski was there along with his colleagues from ACT for NIH: Advancing Cures Today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group is pushing Congress to restore funding to the National Institutes of Health. The group’s founder and chairman is on the MD Anderson board.

2008-Mike Zwolinski-and-President Clinton“After the main event was over, we expected President Clinton would leave,” Zwolinski said. “Instead, he came and visited with us for a long while. He was very generous with his time.”

Zwolinski, a 29-year-old Massachusetts native, moved to the nation’s capital after Wheaton to pursue his passion for politics. After working on campaigns and on Capitol Hill, he took a job at the trade association for college public-health programs; when his boss there was tapped to launch ACT for NIH, he asked Zwolinski to join him as its managing director.

ACT for NIH says federal funding for medical research has fallen nearly 25 percent since 2003, when adjusted for inflation. Zwolinski spends his days meeting with members of Congress and their staffers, tracking legislation, and working with others in the health advocacy community—all in an effort to reverse the trend. [Read more...]

The student becomes the teacher

Ted Nesi ’07I was blessed during my time at Wheaton to be taught by a long list of wonderful professors. Darlene Boroviak, Anni Baker, Jay Goodman, Jerry Murphy, Gerry Huiskamp—the list goes on. They were smart and commanding teachers, but generous with their time and knowledge. I idolized them.

So it was a bit surreal—not to mention delightfully flattering—when Wheaton asked me to join their ranks and become a part-time journalism instructor this past spring semester. The English Department’s leaders said they hoped my experiences in my day job, as a political reporter for Rhode Island’s CBS-TV affiliate, would yield some useful insights for the 10 students in my class.

[Read more...]

Wheaton College Professor Jay Goodman

50 years of inspiration

Professor Jay Goodman politically engages generations of students

Spring 1968 Wheaton Quarterly

Spring 1968 Wheaton Quarterly

In September 1965, with Lyndon B. Johnson as president and The Beatles topping the charts, a 25-year-old armed with a new Ph.D. from Brown University arrived on Wheaton’s campus to start teaching undergrads the fundamentals of American politics.

The young man’s name: Jay Goodman.

This fall found Barack Obama in LBJ’s place and Taylor Swift in the Fab Four’s. But Goodman was still in a Wheaton classroom—starting his 50th year of teaching at the college. And he seems as surprised as anyone by his own longevity.

“It’s shocking,” Goodman said—in his trademark deadpan—over coffee recently at the Starbucks near his home in Providence, R.I. “No one ever plans this kind of thing. It just happens.”

Planned or not, over the past half-century Goodman has become one of the most iconic and influential figures in Wheaton’s history. With his Einstein-esque shock of white hair and shuffling gait, today he is as much a part of the college as the Dimple or Peacock Pond. An oft-cited statistic estimates more than half of all living Wheaton alums have taken one of his classes. [Read more...]