Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Emily Firment ’11

  • 650_Emily Firment 11Student alumnae/i activities co-chair
  • Staff assistant, University Development Office, Harvard University

Involvement: Wheaton College Young Alumnae/i of Boston member, 2012–13; student-alumnae/i athletic reception volunteer, 2012; Student Government Association president, 2011

Connection: “I am a drastically different person today than I was when I walked onto campus in January 2008. I attribute that change to the professors, administrators and peers I met, and I want to give back to a school that gave so much to me.”

Goal: “As a young alum who is still connected with many current students on campus, I want to help strengthen the relationship between current students and alumnae/i. I hope to find a way to engage students with the board prior to their senior year.”

Surprise: “Growing up, I loved watching the movie musical ‘Newsies.’ It is still a favorite. My sister and I could both sing the entire movie and would switch who sang which parts. I even wrote a paper about the historical accuracy of the movie in high school.”

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Amanda Gray Idema ’97

  • 650_Amanda Gray Idema 97Alumnae/i Trustee
  • Director of advising and academic services, Michigan State University College of Engineering

Involvement: Class notes secretary, 2013–17: Wheaton Fund chair, 2003–12; Alumnae/i and Parent Admission Committee member, 1999–2013

Connection: “I stayed connected to Wheaton because of my love for the campus, the people, and the learning that takes place here. Someone’s giving (whether it was their time, their ideas or their money) made it possible for me to attend Wheaton, and I want to do the same for others.”

Goal: “Serving the board will allow me to connect to alumnae/i from all the class years. I look forward to being more involved in the big-picture strategic planning, and bringing my knowledge of higher education to the group. One of my goals is to explore how we might better connect alumnae/i, who are spread out in various parts of the country.”

Surprise: “In November 2011, I traveled to San Diego, courtesy of the U.S. Navy. I got a ride on a submarine, toured a couple of Navy bases, and attended the MSU/North Carolina basketball game (the Carrier Classic), which was played on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier. I was sitting not too far away from President and Mrs. Obama! Unfortunately, MSU lost the game, but the experience was unforgettable.”

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Deirdre Briggs Phillips ’78

  • 650_Deirdre Briggs Phillips 78Vice president of strategic planning and governance
  • Executive director, Autism Consortium, Harvard Medical School

Involvement: Global Advisory Committee, 2004–07, National Campaign Area Committee member, 1984–85

Connection: “I have been to a few Reunions, stayed in touch with a number of longtime Wheaton friends, and gotten to know some terrific fellow alums who are doing great work in Boston.”

Goal: “I’ve served on a number of nonprofit boards and learned a lot along the way. I’m looking forward to using these skills to help Wheaton and the Alumnae/i Board. I also know a couple of Wheaton trustees from other parts of my life and look forward to working with them, and getting to know all the trustees.”

Surprise: “I’m quite good at arranging flowers, re-arranging furniture, and organizing just about anything. As such, I have a secret wish to work in a flower shop or a hardware store, and lately, even the Container Store has a certain appeal.”

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On the cutting edge of tissue engineering

Tracie Payne Ferreira ’90As a professor in the bioengineering department at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, Tracie Payne Ferreira ’90 has her dream job. Not only does her work help to advance healing medical technology, but she also engages students with her passion for hands-on teaching.

Ferreira’s lab researches tissue engineering. “Basically, we want to be able to take cells and grow new organs to help people, since transplants are hard to come by,” she says. “Skin is also a tissue we can grow using cell therapies that can help people heal faster and recover from chronic wounds that won’t heal. We already can synthesize cartilage, so once we get it figured out in the lab we can get it into trials for patient use.”

She adds, “A big challenge in tissue engineering is this: while you are creating a specific tissue, what do you grow stem cells on? You need something called a scaffold to hold them in place, but at the same time as the cells grow into tissue, the scaffold should dissolve so you don’t have a strange material left in the middle of the new tissue.” [Read more...]