Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

The town that runs on Wheaties

Alumnae lead the way in Boston suburb

You might say that Cohasset, Massachusetts, has it all: stunning ocean views, gracious old homes, a small-town vibe, and a location just 22 miles from Boston. It also lays claim to another remarkable asset: a dozen Wheaton graduates who live or work there, making vital contributions to the community.

In a town of just over 7,500 residents, a small group of people can make a difference, and these Wheaton graduates are doing just that. They include Barbara Bikofsky Cataldo ’79, superintendent of schools; Diane Quinn Kennedy ’86, a town selectman; and a host of others engaged in education, the arts and local business.

Some of these Wheaton dynamos knew each other in college, but most did not; their class years range from 1976 to 1991. In Cohasset, they form a loose but loyal network.

“I never imagined I would be working in a town with so many Wheaties,” says Peg Browne Jordan ’84, who teaches Spanish and heads the foreign languages department at Cohasset High School. Jordan has taught three children of fellow alums, and she says she is proud to have a fellow Wheaton graduate as superintendent.

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A boost for budding scientists: Jennings family looks to the future

For 40 years, chemistry professor Bojan Hamlin Jennings taught and mentored science students at Wheaton, always with the staunch support of her husband, Addison. Now she is extending that legacy by establishing two endowed funds to support today’s students.

Chemistry professor Bojan Hamlin Jennings in 2008

Chemistry professor Bojan Hamlin Jennings in 2008

The Jennings Family Endowed Scholarship will be awarded to an academically talented first-year student who intends to major in chemistry, biochemistry, physics or biology. Bojan chose to support financial aid partly because she herself benefited from scholarships—first at a private high school and then at Bryn Mawr College.

The Jennings Family Prize, awarded separately, will be given at spring convocation to the most academically stellar rising senior who is majoring in one of the natural sciences. Bojan intends the award to add distinction to the recipient’s résumé or graduate school applications. A stipend accompanying the prize will help the student fund an academic endeavor, such as a research project—a fitting honor, because Bojan pioneered the Wheaton tradition of student-faculty research. She won Wheaton’s first research grants in 1959 and conducted all of her research with students. [Read more...]

The thrill of discovery

Humanities students unlock a secret in 10th century poem

Professor Michael Drout poses a question to team members in the Lexomics lab at Wheaton.

Professor Michael Drout poses a question to team members in the Lexomics lab at Wheaton.

With the help of computer analysis, a team of Wheaton scholars has uncovered a 1,200-year-old secret about an Old English poem.

English professor Michael Drout’s summer research students discovered in June that the author of the 10th century poem “Christ III” created the work not out of whole cloth, as previously believed, but by dividing an older poem into two pieces and then inserting new material in the middle. This discovery led the scholars to further insights about the nature of the historic text.

“Using computer programs written by Wheaton students and techniques developed at Wheaton over the past four summers, the team was able to figure out what was sitting on an anonymous author’s desk over a millennium ago,” Drout said. “We determined that the unknown author had a written source, that it was in the form of poetry rather than prose, and that the source was already old when our author adapted it.” [Read more...]

Recipes for recovery

Alumna and daughter publish benefit cookbook

Cheryl Pembridge Larkin ’73 and daughter Kate Kurelja show off Chef David Burke’s Grilled Salmon with Grilled Vegetables and Tomato Vinaigrette.

Cheryl Pembridge Larkin ’73 and daughter Kate Kurelja show off Chef David Burke’s Grilled Salmon with Grilled Vegetables and Tomato Vinaigrette.

Three days after Hurricane Sandy slammed into New Jersey’s coast in October 2012, Cheryl Pembridge Larkin ’73 and her husband, John, drove from their inland home in Basking Ridge to check on their summer cottage in Point Pleasant Beach. Power outages throughout the state had cut off most news reports, but the Larkins had heard Governor Chris Christie speaking on their car radio.

“The shore as we know it is gone,” he said.

When they reached the coast, the Larkins were relieved to find their cottage intact, but shocked at the surrounding wreckage.

“Broken, crumpled buildings stood or half stood,” Larkin recalls. “Some were washed away. Sand dunes had been re-created in the streets. Wires were down. Garbage and debris were scattered everywhere. The boardwalk was gone.”

Larkin asked herself, “What do you do to help?”

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