Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

From White House to State House 

Gabe Amo ’10

Gabe Amo ’10

Wheaton alum Gabe Amo ’10 was profiled in July in WPRO News’ “630 Under 30” series, which highlights young professionals in Rhode Island.

Amo, 27, of Pawtucket, R.I., is director of public engagement for Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo.

“Politics and government have always been the most interesting things to me,” Amo told WPRO News. “My path here is a product of being singularly focused on trying to contribute to public service.”

As a political science major at Wheaton, Amo served on the Student Government Association and the College Hearing Board, and was president of Wheaton’s chapter of The Roosevelt Institution. He received numerous scholarships and awards while at Wheaton, including the Davis International Fellowship, which enabled him to teach at a Liberian refugee camp in Ghana the summer after his sophomore year. [Read more...]

Food for thought

Sarah Amin ’10 conducts groundbreaking study on federal lunch program

Sarah Amin ’10

Sarah Amin ’10

Parents, close your eyes. Fruits and vegetables added to school lunches to improve nutrition often end up in the trash, according to a widely publicized study by Sarah Amin.

The National School Lunch Program guidelines—implemented in 2012—require elementary school children to select a fruit or vegetable as part of a federally reimbursable meal. But instead of boosting consumption, the young students dispose of the fruits and vegetables, according to her research.

“Assuming that about 400 school lunches were served each day per school that was involved in the study, this would add up to about 56 cups of fruits and vegetables wasted,” she said.

Moreover, after the new rules went into effect, children consumed fewer fruits and veggies overall.

Amin, who conducted this research as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Vermont, was surprised by these findings, she said. But she hasn’t given up hope in delivering these vital sources of nutrients into children’s diets. [Read more...]

Diving in

Ashley Jennings ’07 spends years deep in shark research

Ashley Jennings '07

Ashley Jennings '07

What would it be like to be a shark?

Maybe you’re picturing rows of ragged sawteeth and remembering the last time your stomach growled at you. Or perhaps you’re imagining the feeling of cool water on a strong, streamlined body, and wondering what it would be like to have a superhuman sense of smell.

Most people really wouldn’t even know where to begin imagining. But this question lights up Ashley Jennings’s face. “I think about that pretty much every day,” she says.

Jennings, who graduated from Wheaton College in 2007, explored this question in her research at Boston University, where last year she completed a master’s degree in marine/sensory biology. Working with Jelle Atema, a professor of biology at Boston University and adjunct scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Jennings spent three summers at WHOI studying smooth dogfish, small sharks that can be found along the coast of Massachusetts, for her master’s thesis. While urban legend tells us that a shark can smell a drop of blood in an Olympic-sized swimming pool, Jennings hopes that her research on sharks’ sense of smell will help to dispel that myth, as well as our overblown fear of these animals. [Read more...]

Building a better tomorrow

Ryan Letada ’08 works to transform communities

Letada IMG_7315Born in Kuwait to impoverished parents who dreamed their son would one day become a doctor or lawyer, Ryan Letada ’08 discovered something priceless at Wheaton College: the fire to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit of traditionally marginalized communities.

“Wheaton makes you ask the bigger questions about your purpose in life,” says Letada, who in 2013 co-founded Next Day Better, a New York-based company that, chiefly through its lecture series, showcases the accomplishments—or “tells the stories”—of people who have transformed their communities. The business, for now, focuses on the efforts of social entrepreneurs in the Philippines and the Filipino diaspora. There are plans to ultimately branch out and highlight other ethnicities.

In a series of six lecture engagements around the globe last year (which were also available online), Next Day Better highlighted people such as Illac Diaz, an inventor who created solar light bulbs using recycled plastic bottles. Thousands of poor Filipinos have benefited from his creation. [Read more...]