Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

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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Alum’s career takes flight at avian center

Ben Montgomery ’04When Ben Montgomery ’04 was at Wheaton, he had not pinpointed his exact career plans, but he knew what he wanted.

“I wanted to do something that felt like it mattered and something a little thrilling. I knew I would spend the majority of my life at ‘work,’ so I didn’t want it to just be about a paycheck; I would die of boredom,” said Montgomery, who majored in biology with a concentration in ecology and environmental science.

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Work it

Wheaton alumnae/i are a rich source of advice regarding pursuing career goals. Two of them, Laura Powers ’79 and Kathryn Sollmann ’80, are serving as career coaches to offer words of wisdom to alums through the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services. Here they share their tips for the 2012 job market.

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And the winner is… Leah Finkelstein

NEWSMAKER

Leah Finkelstein ’97Leah Finkelstein ’97 has been playing the piano since age 3. Her decades of dedication paid off in a big way last fall. On Sept. 24, 2011, she was named best singer/songwriter at the 2011 Malibu Music Awards, which honor the achievements of successful entertainers, songwriters, publishers and others who contribute positively to the music industry and community at large. Her song “Taking It Slow” from her second full-length LP, “Feigning Composure,” (on the Def Cat Productions label that she launched with her manager) won her the honor. Ironically, Finkelstein, who graduated from Wheaton with a degree in music performance, initially was afraid to sing in front of people. “I had always been an instrumentalist, but singing was always very anxiety-provoking. I performed at open-mic nights, but my mic would always need to be cranked for anyone to hear me. Someone convinced me to try out for the Wheaton Whims, which I didn’t want to do. I am thankful I did. Though I was still too nervous to sing out, I used the opportunity to train my voice and little by little, I gained the confidence I needed to start singing a little louder. Now, I sing too loud, and sometimes I have to pull back from the mic. The friendships I made and getting out of my comfort zone musically were so important and continue to be.” Her talent appears to be coming through loud and clear in a singing style that has been described as “American roots soul” because all of her influences are based in jazz, blues, folk, rock and a little bit of country.

The singer’s first album, “Dear Claudia,” named in her mother’s honor, gained her major recognition, which resulted in Finkelstein and her husband relocating to the West Coast in 2007. Her mother, Claudia Finkelstein, a jazz vocalist who died of cancer in 2005, continues to inspire the singer. “I was extremely close with my mother. Of course, we had music in common, but beyond that, we just really loved each other’s souls. …I dedicated the album and the band to her.”