Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Student’s research sheds light on homelessness

Iraimi Mercado ’12The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty estimates that more than 3 million people, 1.35 million of them children, experience homelessness in a given year. In today’s economy, even more people are at risk.

More than ever, it is crucial to understand how to help them. The key is in getting a handle on support systems, says sociology major Iraimi Mercado ’12. For her senior thesis, she spent months researching homelessness, focusing on how services impact the lives of women and children living in emergency shelters. She’s hoping her findings can offer policy makers guidance as they create regulations that impact families.

Her research involved one-on-one interviews with single mothers living at the Old Colony YMCA Family Life Center in Brockton, Mass. She explored which services over what period of time have helped them.

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Wulff explores the psychology of religion

Psychology of Religion: Classic and Contemporary (2nd edition; Wiley, 1997), which has been translated into Swedish, Polish, Farsi and Chinese. His current projects include the editing of a handbook on the psychology of religion for Oxford University Press and the development of what he calls the “Faith Q-Sort,” a device for assessing a wide variety of positions on faith, ranging from indifference or even hostility toward religion or spirituality to strongly favorable attitudes, both conservative and liberal. In addition to being an accomplished professor and author, he has been a sought-after speaker at conferences. Last year alone he traveled abroad three times to address conferences in China, Italy and Denmark. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Lund University in Sweden in 1993, and has been honored in various ways by the American Psychological Association. In May he plans to retire from Wheaton to devote more time to his projects, including consulting with two universities in China to help set up psychology and religion programs there. We talked to him about his most recent research.

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Shaking it up: Gianni Cionchi’s original twist on the restaurant biz

Gionni Cionchi '07, general manager at FishTag restaurant, New York City.When Gianni Cionchi describes a dish on the menu at FishTag, one of the Manhattan restaurants he runs, it’s clear that he appreciates the “art” in culinary arts.

“This is our take on the classic tabouli salad,” he says of the trendy tavern’s chopped bulgur salad, “but we’ve chosen to add about twenty-five additional ingredients. You have a base of shaved fennel and grilled kale, which gives a great smoky flavor, and peppers—yellow, red bell—plus pomegranates, dates, tomato, raw radish, scallions, onions—a lot of high and low notes.”

Like the other Greek-inspired items on the menu—from sheep’s milk dumplings to smoked octopus—the bulgur salad at this Upper West Side restaurant is distinctive.

“You don’t get attention in this business by doing things the same way everyone else does,” Cionchi remarks.

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Helping readers uncover good stories

Kirsten Cappy ’92The advent of e-readers has revolutionized how people read. In seconds, readers can have a new book in hand. What has not changed is the fact that they have to know that a book exists before they can want it. “In the end, the challenge still is, how does a reader find that story or author in the first place?” says book marketing consultant Kirsten Cappy ’92.

Cappy has made it her business to focus on this question and come up with innovative answers over and over again as she works to help put interesting literature in the hands of children and educators through her company, Curious City. Located in Portland, Maine, Curious City primarily seeks to get good books read and used. The aim is to create and inspire curious children while supporting the admirable work of authors and illustrators, she says.

“I know from my own reading life that a story can grow our curiosity, sense of the world, and sense of ourselves in ways that no other experience can,” says Cappy, who majored in anthropology at Wheaton. “My work at Curious City is about creating instances where those critical connections between a child and a book have the opportunity to happen.

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