Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Josephine “Josie” McFadden ’61

The Lucy McFadden Teaching Laboratory and
The Bojan Hamlin Jennings Student/Faculty Research Laboratory

The summer before her senior year, Josephine “Josie” McFadden ’61 worked with Bojan Hamlin Jennings, now professor emerita of chemistry, doing research on ultrasound technology through a National Science Foundation grant. The experience was a memorable one for McFadden, who is a member of the President’s Commission. So memorable, in fact, that she asked to name a space—The Bojan Hamlin Jennings Student/Faculty Research Laboratory—in honor of her former professor. “She is an amazing woman,” says McFadden.

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Stepping into a major role

Walking across the courtyard of Olga’s Cup + Saucer in Providence, R.I., Jill Lawlor smiles and waves as she approaches a corner table for an interview about her new job. She warmly extends her hand, maintains eye contact, and offers a “thank-you-so-much-for-coming,” even though she is the one invited here to one of her favorite coffee hangouts.

This is exactly the easy-going, engaging personality—combined with her great depth of experience—that won over the hiring committee that selected her as the new executive director of alumnae/i relations. Lawlor replaces Sharon Howard, who retired last summer.

“Jill has spent many years collaborating with staff members, alums and volunteers at other institutions, and developing and leading effective programming,” says Mary Casey, vice president for college advancement, who was part of a committee comprising alumnae/i relations and college advancement staff members, as well as alum volunteers. “We’re very excited that she has joined us.”

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Providing parental guidance

Abbie Schiller ’94

Abbie Schiller ’94 with her son, Charlie, 1, and daughter, Ona, 7.

“Tell the truth.”

“Share your toys.”

“Be nice.”

“Don’t bite your friend.”

These are some of the most important life lessons that a parent can teach a child, says Abbie Schiller ’94, whose children are ages 1 and 7. “When my daughter was 3 years old, I desperately needed a hero in the media to help me teach those lessons. But without Mister Rogers, who taught things like how to be a good friend, how to use your words to describe feelings, how to tell the truth, and other lessons in a real, non-animated way, there was nothing.”

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Newsmaker: Sam Sisakhti ’05

Sam Sisakhti ’05Sam Sisakhti ’05, who majored in economics at Wheaton, never studied fashion. But he has always had a great fashion sense, courtesy of his mother. “She used to always dress me up for every occasion as a child. I remember one time we went to an Easter egg hunt party. All the other kids were wearing T-shirts and shorts; my mother dressed me  up in a seersucker suit and pink shirt. At the end of the day, after running around with the other kids, the suit was ruined with all the dirt and grass stains from the Easter egg hunt. But it did not stop her from dressing me up again for future parties.” Combining a now-evolved sense of fashion with his business smarts, he launched UsTrendy.com in 2008. His goal is to help independent designers break into the fashion industry via e-commerce. He offers shoppers fashion from all over the world, while providing independent designers a place to sell their products, seek funding, and get help launching and growing their fashion lines. Currently, his database has more than 11,000 designers from over 100 countries. Many media outlets have taken note, including Inc. magazine and the Boston Business Journal. He was named one of Boston magazine’s 2011 Most Promising Innovators under 30. “We want to help indie designers break through the barriers in the industry and pursue their dreams,” Sisakhti said. “There are so many talented designers and artists in the world who do not have a platform to be discovered.” He first thought of the idea for his company as he watched many of his fashion-designer friends struggle. He had always wanted to start a business but didn’t consider it a realistic option until he took a finance job after graduate school. “After four days of being miserable at my job, I resigned. I figured that it was now or never, so I took a chance and launched UsTrendy.” His economics major has helped a great deal, he said, “especially the labor economics courses looking at employee productivity and team productivity. I use the concepts all the time when managing my team as well as when I was building it.” (And, yes, he has a walk-in closet.)

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