Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

A balancing act

Taylor Wright-Sanson masters circus performance, Web developing

At first glance, there appears to be little crossover between software engineering and circus arts.

But for computer science and interface design major Taylor Wright-Sanson ’13, an iOS developer and skilled circus performer, the two disciplines complement each other nicely.

“Each requires very specific and practiced skills to solve problems,” says Wright-Sanson, who in January 2015 joined education technology startup Kaymbu in Cambridge, Mass., as its lead iOS developer. The Wheaton alum also is a longtime circus performer who regularly performs for Wunderle’s Big Top Adventures, which provides entertainment at festivals, corporate events and holiday shows.

For the circus arts, problem solving is both physical in nature and requires some mental acrobatics, he said. “Not only does an act need a good trick, but you have to know if those tricks will flow well together.”

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Head of the Class

Geoffrey Fenelus finds his passion teaching kids

Geoffrey Fenelus ’09

Geoffrey Fenelus ’09

Geoffrey Fenelus ’09, an economics major, didn’t always plan on working in education.

When he enrolled at Wheaton as a freshman in 2005, his intention was to pursue a long-term career in finance. Little did he know he’d find his true calling as the founding dean of students at Bushwick Ascend Middle School, a public, tuition-free charter school in central Brooklyn that offers a rich, rigorous liberal arts curriculum modeled closely on the practices of New York City’s finest independent schools. Ascend’s mission is to equip every student with the knowledge, confidence and character to succeed in college and beyond.

There are nine schools in total in the Ascend network, but the Bushwick location—which Fenelus helped launch—just opened in 2015. “Our mission is simple,” he explains. “We’re trying to get kids to, through and beyond college by making sure every Bushwick Ascend student has access to the same quality education as students in high-income neighborhoods.”

For Fenelus, the opportunity to take on a leadership role came at the perfect time. After working as a personal banker in Queens after graduating from Wheaton, he began to think about a career in education when a friend invited him to volunteer in the classroom at a KIPP charter school, also in New York.

“The first week, I went in one day a week,” he recalls. “The second, it was two days a week. Three weeks later, I was in there five days a week. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed the work.” [Read more...]

Tackling HIV/AIDS prevention

Gilda Rodrigues wins Rotary Global Grant

Gilda Rodrigues ’14

Gilda Rodrigues ’14

Gilda Rodrigues ’14, an advocate for disease prevention and maternal health, was named a recipient of Rotary International’s prestigious Global Grant scholarship.

The grant supports graduate study in one of the organization’s focus areas, including disease prevention, education, and maternal and children’s health. The goal is to support large international activities with sustainable, measurable outcomes.

The Rotary scholarship builds on Rodrigues’s previous focus in the health care field. In 2013, she studied public health, race and human rights in Brazil, thanks to the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.

Following graduation, Rodrigues joined AmeriCorps, for which she volunteered for multiple organizations, including Community of Hope, a clinic focused on providing primary care to underserved families, and the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition. Her research credentials also include work at Harvard Medical School and at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. [Read more...]

A tennis star at all ages

June Alper Smith ’57 competes in world championships

Judy Alper Smith ’57

Judy Alper Smith ’57, pictured above with her International Tennis Federation Super-Seniors World Team Championships teammates

A love for tennis can last a lifetime.

Consider Judy Alper Smith ’57, who not only continues to play tennis in her eighties, but also competed in the International Tennis Federation Super-Seniors World Team Championships in Umag, Croatia, in September 2015. Smith is among the top four tennis players in the U.S. in her age category. [Read more...]