Volume CXLII: Commencement Edition
F r i d ay , M ay 24, 2013
Photo by Olivia Tarantino â€™15 The independent newspaper of Amherst College since 1868.
Table of Contents
Photo by Olivia Tarentinto ’15
5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 22
Alejandro Sucre Man of the Match: A Lovely Finish from the Venezuelan Jisoo Lee Journalist Brings Worldly View, Activism to Amherst Roger Creel Jack of all Trades Exemplifies Liberal Arts Education Keri Lambert Running Down Her Dreams, With Stops Along the Way Risalat Khan Environmentalist, Geologist, Mathematician, Friend Dana Women’s Rights Advocate Leaves Mark on Campus
23 24 25 26 27
Zach Bleemer Three Majors, Two Theses, One Bleemer Deidre Nelms Philosopher, Environmentalist Cultivates Questions Matt Fernald Music Enthusiast Ends Amherst Career on Perfect Note Reilly Horan Athlete, Theater Lover Radiates Warm Personality Roshard Bryant A Basketball Star Takes His Talents to the Community
3 4 20-21 15-19, 31 28-30, 32
Lindsay The Sublime Vanishing Point of a Gifted, Daring Mind
Joe Taff From Epic to Electric, Musician Masters Styles, Sounds
Fulbright & Watson Scholars
Andrew Erskine He Can Go the Distance, On and Off the Track
Year in Review 2012—2013: A Year of Conflict and Vigorous Discourse
Larissa Davis A Staunch Advocate for a Better Amherst College
Senior Greetings Congratulations from friends and family
Tania Dias A President’s Quest for an Inclusive Community
Schedule of Events Friday
1:00 p.m. Sigma Xi Meeting
1:00 p.m. Check-In
2:00 p.m. Conversations with Honored Guests
5:00 p.m. Commencement Rehearsal
4:30 p.m. President’s Reception 9:15 p.m. Choral Society Concert
Saturday 8:30 a.m. Check-In
9:00 a.m. Phi Beta Kappa Meeting
8:00 a.m. Reception Center Opens
10:00 a.m. Baccalaureate Services
10:00 a.m. The 192nd Commencement
11:15 a.m. Conversations with Honored Guests
Post- Ceremony Luncheon
12:30 p.m. Luncheon
Editors-in-Chief Brianda Reyes, Alissa Rothman Commencement Issue Editors Ethan Corey, Noah Gordon, Karl Greenblatt, Emmett Knowlton, Annalise Nurme Commencement Publishers Nazir Khan, Mike Osorio
Design Editor Brendan Hsu Contributors Christian Aviles, Jeff Feldman, Jessie Kaliski, Rainer Lembert, Peter Suechting, Jake Walters, Andre Wang, Nicole Yang Photographer Olivia Tarantino
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
The Amherst Student is published weekly except during College vacations. The subscription rate is $75 per year or $40 per semester. Subscription requests and address changes should be sent to: Subscriptions, The Amherst Student; Box 1912, Amherst College: Amherst, MA 01002-5000. The offices of The Student are located on the second floor of the Keefe Campus Center, Amherst College. Phone: (413) 542-2304. All contents copyright © 2013 by The Amherst Student, Inc. All rights reserved. The Amherst Student logo is a trademark of The Amherst Student, Inc. Additionally, The Amherst Student does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or age.
Honorary Degrees Freddie Bryant Hollister ’87 Guitarist and Composer Freddie Bryant Hollister ’87 (stage name Freddie Bryant), a well-respected guitarist and composer, is currently a professor at Berklee College of Music. Bryant graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College before receiving a master’s degree at the Yale School of Music. In 2003, Bryant, along with his group, Kaleidoscope, was named a “Jazz Ambassador” by the U.S. Department of State to the Middle East and Asia, and has also toured as a solo artist for the State Department’s U.S. Speaker Program. In 2004, Bryant earned a Copeland Fellowship from Amherst College. A lifelong student and lover of classical and jazz traditions, Bryant has released six CDs and has toured around the U.S. and internationally with world-renowned musicians.
Madeline Janis ’82 Social Activist and LAANE Founder
Madeline Janis ’82 is a social activist focused on fighting urban poverty and bolstering the economic status of the middle class. In 1992, Janis co-founded the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), which successfully advocated for the passage of a groundbreaking living-wage law. Under Janis’ leadership, LAANE garnered significant publicity in 2004 by stopping the construction of a Walmart superstore in Inglewood, Calif. More recently, Janis helped to enact a LAANE program to remove diesel trucks from the streets of Los Angeles. In 2012, Janis was named the organization’s national policy director. She is also a senior fellow at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.
Barry Scheck Acclaimed Defense Attorney
Barry Scheck is a lawyer and professor of law who rose to prominence in late 1980s for his defense of Hedda Nussbaum and Louisa Woodward. A graduate of Yale and of Berkeley Law, Scheck is also well known for his work on the O.J. Simpson’s defense team in 1995. It was during this case that Scheck became intrigued with the possible transfer of DNA testing from the scientific realm to the forensics arena. From here Scheck went on to found the Innocence Project, an initiative that uses DNA testing as a means to exculpate criminals. More recently, Scheck has represented Reade Seligmann, one of the wrongfully accused Duke lacrosse players in the 2007 rape scandal, in his civil law suit against the city of Durham, N.C. Today, Scheck is a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City.
Robert Yarchoan ’71 HIV/AIDS Doctor and Researcher
Dr. Robert Yarchoan graduated from Amherst College in 1971 and subsequently received his M.D. from the Univ. of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the National Cancer Institute, and, along with his colleagues Drs. Samuel Broder and Hiroaki Mitsuya, he developed the first effective treatments for HIV/AIDS. He is the chief of the National Cancer Institute’s HIV and AIDS Malignancy branch, and in 2007 became director of the Office of HIV and AIDS Malignancy. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the U.S. Public Health Service Outstanding Service Medal, the first World Aids Day Award and the NCI HIV/AIDS Research Excellence Award.
Diana Chapman Walsh Educator and Public Health Expert Diana Chapman Walsh is a former trustee of Amherst College who currently serves on the governing boards of MIT, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the Kaiser Family Foundation, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the Mind and Life Institute and on national advisory boards. She was the 12th president of Wellesley College, her alma mater, and there she revised the curriculum and expanded programs in global education, internships and service learning and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. Before that, Walsh was the Norman Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she chaired the Department of Health and Social Behavior, founding its Program on Society and Health. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty, she was at Boston Univ. as a University Professor and a professor in the School of Public Health. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Walsh has written and edited 60 articles, book chapters and 13 policy monographs and conducted a study of the practice of medicine within corporation.
Paul Rieckhoff ’98 Veteran and Founder of the IAVA
Paul Rieckhoff enlisted with the U.S. Army Reserves after graduating from Amherst College in 1998; until 2001, he worked on Wall Street in New York City. On September 11, Rieckhoff and his National Guard unit participated in rescue operations at ground zero. In 2002, he volunteered for service in the invasion of Iraq and stayed in Baghdad for a year as a platoon leader and Army First Lieutenant. After returning home in 2004 Rieckhoff founded the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), America’s largest nonprofit organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has spoken on various television and radio shows and was recently featured in Rolling Stone and on the cover of TIME magazine. He has also written numerous articles and opinion columns for national newspapers, and in 2006 he published a book called “Chasing Ghosts” which describes his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rieckhoff is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and in 2010 was inducted into the Global Ashoka Fellowship, a community dedicated to social change through innovation and entrepreneurship.
Jim Steinman ’69 Composer, Lyricist and Producer
Since his days as a young opera fan and a creator of daring theatrical works at Amherst College and with Joe Papp at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Jim Steinman has sold more than 190 million records as a composer, lyricist and Grammy Award-winning record producer. His musical accomplishments are too numerous to list, but he is responsible for hit songs such as “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Making Love Out of Nothing At All,” and Meat Loaf ’s album “Bat Out of Hell.” Steinman also wrote the lyrics for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Whistle Down the Wind” and contributed to the soundtrack of “Footloose,” among other movies. Known for his tragic songwriting style, Steinman was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in June 2012. After receiving his honorary degree, Steinman is scheduled to speak at a “Conversation” on campus beginning May 25. At the age of 65, Steinman plans to collaborate once again with Meat Loaf on his album that is to be released next fall. All photos courtesy of the Amherst College website, www.amherst.edu.
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Fulbright & Watson Scholars
At Amherst College, Bess Hanish has put her energy toward advocating for transfer students and easing their transitions; a transfer herself, Hanish knows the difficulties they face. But her true passion is study of the Arabic language, and she sees this as the key to her future career: working with NGOs that support Arabic-speaking immigrants in the United States. “I believe that fluency in Arabic will allow me to better tackle the issues, from a legal standpoint, that Middle Eastern women face in the United States,” Hanish wrote on her
Fulbright application. Hanish spoke her first words in Arabic, and has continued to study the language ever since. She has travelled to Morocco, Jordan and Yemen in the past, and as a result already has some knowledge of the Levant, Moroccan and Yemeni dialects of Arabic. Hanish applied to study in Egypt in order to master Masri, the Egyptian dialect; she will study both Masri and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) during her time in Egypt. While MSA is widely known among educated Arabicspeakers, knowledge of Masri would allow her to bypass borders of socioeconomic class that exist in the Arabic world. After returning to the U.S., Hanish plans to attend law school.
A native of Hanover, N.H. and a basketball player at Amherst, Jasmine Hardy will spend next year as an English Teaching Assistant in Vietnam. Hardy has several teachers in her family, and she herself is not new to teaching English abroad; she spent the summer following her sophomore year teaching in Italy. Her interest in Vietnam stems from the experiences of her grandmother, who taught midwives there, and from the nation’s culture surrounding education. “Vietnam, with its historic love of and respect for learning and commitment to improvement, seems to me the perfect setting to
work in,” Hardy wrote on her application. An English and Psychology double-major who hopes to become a college professor, Hardy has written a thesis on the subject of “creolization” and also hopes to learn Vietnamese to bolster her knowledge of the nature of languages. One of her primary goals of traveling to Vietnam is to “look more closely at the complexities of language and language barriers.” She recalled, “The questions that these new friends [her elementary schoolaged Italian students] asked about the English language were so detailed and well thoughtout, so thorough. I was taken with their appreciation of and interest in learning [English] and determined that I wanted to work…with more advanced English speakers.”
Geology major and former U.S. Army Ranger Mark Hellmer was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Scholarship to travel to Russia. Before coming to Amherst in the fall of 2010, Hellmer served for five years as an Imagery Analyst, deploying regularly to both Afghanistan and Iraq for up to six months at a time. On his first deployment in the military, Hellmer brought with him Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” “The characters and their interactions help me to accept life on its own terms,” Hellmer explained on his Fulbright application.
From Tolstoy to Dostyoevsky, Russian novelists have grown to be a great passion in Hellmer’s life, equaled only by Geology. Hellmer has already traveled to Russia and is familiar with its vast geological range, but anticipates his return. While abroad, on top of serving as a Teaching Assistant, Hellmer also plans to conduct geological fieldwork and master the Russian language. Upon returning from Russia, Hellmer intends to pursue a Ph.D. in Geology with a focus in Hydrogeology, and hopes to chose a dissertation topic that will allow him to return to Russia to conduct more fieldwork. As most Ph.D. programs for geology require candidates to teach at an undergraduate level, his Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Scholarship will be all the more valuable.
With her English Teaching Assistantship, Jones hopes to utilize her seven years as a language tutor to teach English and American culture to French students. “My passion for French developed at age twelve,” Jones wrote on her application. “Around the same time, I developed a passion for teaching. My first year in high-school, I began tutoring recent Hispanic immigrants at a local school.” Despite initial difficulties of communication, Jones soon understood the great rewards. “During my four years as a tutor, I not only honed my teaching skill,” Jones wrote. “But I also came to understand that teaching is just as
much about learning yourself than about instructing others.” Jones continued tutoring at Amherst with immigrant children at El Arco Iris in Holyoke and as a Resident Counselor. Jones is the recipient of the $25,000 Schupf travel scholarship and the Hamilton prize for highest GPA in economics, a member of the Cum Laude Society and a Mellon Fellow with a grant for research on executions. Schupf will draw upon her experiences living in Washington state, Mississippi and Massachusetts to share a broader knowledge of American culture with her French students. Upon returning to the U.S., she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. program in French and share her love of the language as a high school teacher or college professor in a French or Romance Languages department.
Timothy Poterba spent the last year writing a senior honors thesis on protein hydrogen exchange mass spectrometry (HXMS). He applied for a Fulbright Scholarship in order to continue this vein of research by studying the folding of the Rubisco protein and its interactions
with another brand of proteins, chaperonins. He hopes to apply his research on protein folding to the problem of aging. Poterba will with Dr. Manajit Hater-Hartl in her lab at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) in Martinsried, Germany. Dr. Hater-Hartl, an expert in HXMS and Rubisco biogenesis, is enthusiastic about Poterba joining her research group. At the MPIB, Poterba will join a diverse and distinguished group of sci-
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
entists from over 40 countries. “I am excited by the prospect of being part of such a distinguished and diverse group of scientists,” Poterba wrote in his Fulbright application. “[S]pending a year carrying out research there would provide an excellent opportunity to interact with scientists from around the world.”
Jenna Troop, a German and European Studies major who says she first decided to learn German “on a whim,” will spend next year working as an English Teaching Assistant in Germany. Troop has previously studied abroad in France and in Göttingen, Germany, as part of the College’s study abroad program. She also has English as a Second Language (ESL) tutoring experience within the United States, and she was active in extracurricular activities at the College including admissions and the women’s rugby team. Troop, who hopes to apply for Teach for America upon her return, believes that “a classroom provides the perfect setting for the type of
The working language at the MPIB is English, but Poterba plans to take courses in the German language during his stay in the Munich area. Upon his return, he plans to receive a Ph.D. in Biochemistry in order to further pursue his interest in protein folding and address the problems of aging.
intercultural exchange that is necessary in today’s global interactions.” Troop hopes to build connections with her students by moving beyond traditional textbook-oriented learning, much as she did during her time as a local ESL tutor. “I hope to combine my previous experiences as a tutor with what I already know about German culture to find instances of pop culture that I can use as a starting place to connect with the German high school students,” Troop wrote on her application. “I want to welcome their interests into the conversation.” Drawing on her own language-learning experiences, Troop says the biggest impediment to learning a new language is being afraid to make a mistake, so she hopes to “foster an atmosphere where students are willing to speak and take risks.”
Inspired by the Peace Corps girls’ empowerment camp she helped staff in Elakwutini, South Africa, as well as past teachers who helped her find her own voice, Wang will further her passions for language and education with a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Russia. She hopes to promote cross-cultural discourse through classroom exercises, bringing a hunger for learning and her sensitivity and drive to connect with other cultures. Wang, who grew up in Montreal, Quebec and Silver Springs, Maryland, has a lifetime of experience connecting with others through language, namely Chinese,
French, English, Spanish and, more recently, Russian. “In many respects, finding community through language has been the unifying thread in my life,” Wang wrote on her application. “Outside of my teaching duties, I hope to devote my remaining hours to organizing community art events for my students through which I can better get to know them.” A Black Studies major, Wang has also studied Russian for three years at Amherst, and both foci have given her a broader perspective outside largely negative media. Over her time at Amherst, Wang has served as a tutor and mentor in Reader to Reader, the Peace Corps, and an Adult Literacy Center, to name only a few.
WATSON Keri Lambert
All-American runner Keri Lambert plans on using her Watson Fellowship to close the gap between production and consumption in order to uncover the sociocultural repercussions of masked consumerism. The Amherst native plans to listen to the stories of farmers, fishermen and factory workers in Ghana, Tanzania and Malaysia to realize the ways in which lives are shaped by economic, environmental and social forces, both local and global. During her year abroad she will keep an online blog to make the experiences of local producers as available to global consumers as the rubber, Nile perch and palm oil they produce.
“One farm, one story, one blog post at a time, I will unveil the interconnectedness of Earth’s community and the profound implication of our insatiable appetites,” Lambert wrote on her application. After her fellowship year, Lambert hopes to work to promote social justice and improve standards of living in rural communities. Eventually, Lambert hopes to teach after studying Environmental history at the graduate level. “I have been blessed to have had teachers who have inspired and empowered me, and I hope to do the same for my students,” Lambert wrote. “My dream is the share my passion for nature and history so that future generations may see how, on the most visceral level, we are all crucial components of Earth’s organic identity.”
Published author Lindsay Stern was awarded a Watson Fellowship. The English and Philosophy double major hopes use he Watson year to explore the reparative capacity of language both in solitude and in the company of children. Stern will be traveling to five orphanages in Bangladesh, Nepal, South Africa, Panama and Guatemala, bringing a creative arts program she developed called WORDBOX to those orphanages. In between these visits, she will live and write in neighboring cities. She hopes to return with a new novel and an anthology of her student’s work. While at Amherst, Stern served as editor-in-chief of The Indicator and Circus Magazine, and currently serves as a contrib-
uting writer to The Common and The Faster Times. The New York City native also recently published a novella, “Town of Shadows.” After her Watson year, Stern hopes to return to school for either an MFA or Ph.D. in English, Classics or Philosophy and plans on pursuing a career in academia and fiction writing. Stern hopes that the Waston Fellowship will allow her to synthesize her love of teaching with her passion for writing, while at the same time deepening her education in Philosophy. “I can imagine no greater personal honor than the opportunity to bring Socrates’ ancient insight [that when it comes to the most meaningful truths, what we call learning is actually recollection] to life in South Asia, whose children would teach me far more, no doubt, than I could hope to teach them,” Stern wrote on her application.
Senior Profile Alejandro Sucre
Man of the Match: A Lovely Finish from the Venezuelan The soccer star has mastered Amherst on and off the pitch. What’s next for the striker? By Emmett Knowlton ’15
I wonder how to begin a profile on Alejandro Sucre, one of the twin, 6’5” Venezuelan demigods you’ve surely seen somewhere on campus, without sounding cheesy or like the starry-eyed superfan that, admittedly, I totally am. I suppose I could begin with the fact that, despite suffering a broken ankle only 10 games into his senior season with a Div. III team, Ale attracted the attention of the Vancouver Whitecaps. I could also talk about all Ale’s done off the field, like The Option and his double-major, and say something about how student-athletes, not just recruited athletes, really do exist at Amherst. Or I could say that in my eyes, Alejandro Sucre is the closest thing Amherst has to a campus celebrity — say, Tim Tebow without the religious bullshit. But no, it seems that the best way to begin is with Lady Gaga. In the fall of 2011, Ale’s sophomore year, the men’s soccer team played at home against a strong Colby side in a crucial NESCAC battle — or so says the athletic department writeup. Neither team could find the back of the net in 90 minutes of regulation, resulting in two 10-minute halves of overtime. Enter Ale, off the bench for his first minutes of the match. After the first 10-minute period, still no goals. In the second overtime half, with 37 seconds remaining, then-senior Mark Crane ’11 launched a ball up the pitch in what appeared to be a last-ditch effort. Somehow it found the head of Ale — as so many balls would from this moment forward — and he slotted it home, the game-winner and his first goal as a Lord Jeff. The way he threw himself at the ball resulted in all 6’5” of him on his back, with his hands in the air, awaiting the imminent mob of teammates upon him. That night, Lady Gaga’s hit “Alejandro” echoed throughout the socials. As you might agree, it seems there’s no other Alejandro whom Lady Gaga could have written that song about.
A Venezuelan Abroad
It may come as no great surprise to learn that Ale and his twin were always big. Obviously not the behemoths they are today — how many people that massive can also run an 11:15 twomile? — but as kids they were big and their love of soccer was even bigger. After their sophomore year of high school however, when the two made the decision to go study abroad at United World Colleges — prestigious international high schools in 13 countries around the world — it looked as if their beloved sport would have take a backseat to academics and to the ideals of internationalism their schools were founded upon. Federico ended up in New Mexico, while Ale set off for Wales, and although Ale couldn’t speak highly enough about his two-year experience in Wales, one of the biggest difficulties was that soccer wasn’t a priority. “Soccer and sports weren’t competitive, and for me that was a big shock and something that was hard for me during my first year,” he said. But
his principal helped him find a small, local club that allowed him to train and improve his skills. Being in Wales proved difficult in other ways too, from little things like the weather and food, to the fact that Federico wasn’t with him. “It’s hard to explain, but when you have a twin brother you experience your life with your twin,” he said. “We’re very close, we have very similar interests and we’re very competitive. Separating was harder for me than for him, I think.” Over the summer before his final year in Wales, Ale traveled around the U.S. with his brother for a month participating in college showcase soccer tournaments with the hopes of attracting college coaches. Their skills aside, the news that there were two massive Venezuelans spread quickly, and at the Duke camp an assistant coach of Justin Serpone, the Amherst men’s soccer coach, liked what he saw in the Ale and his brother.
Lord Jeff Fútbol
The transition from Wales to Amherst was, for Ale, far smoother than moving from Venezuela to Wales. Part of that, he explained, was feeling more confident in his English and having his brother with him (on different floors of North during their first year). But the thing that made his transition easiest, he said, was the soccer team. “Even before classes started, I had my teammates and I knew I could rely on them, and trust them, and that they would become my closest friends at Amherst.” This camaraderie, perhaps not unusual among sports teams, still reflects Ale’s intense dedication to Amherst soccer. During his freshman year, when coach Serpone couldn’t yet tell the twins apart, — “No chance,” he said — Ale didn’t see much time, but continued working hard and itching for any opportunity to play. It was during Ale’s sophomore preseason that everything changed: Serpone decided to give Ale, a lifelong centerback, a run at forward. Immediately he began winning headers and tiring out the back line. Serpone never looked back. “He’s such a force up there,” Serpone said. “He just wears you down.” “My mind-set as a soccer player has always been to work as hard as possible,” Ale explained. “I don’t care so much about the statline or the highlights as much as I do about winning the ball in the air and winning the ball back if I lose it.” This workhorse mentality becomes quickly visible when watching him and his team in a game. The Amherst team has adopted a direct style of play largely due to Ale and his brother’s physical presences. On throw-ins they bomb the ball forward, and often their outside backs will launch the ball in the air to Ale, rather than possessing through the midfield. When Amherst loses possession, it’s terrifying to watch first-hand Ale’s ferocity as he gallops across the backline in pursuit of the ball.
Serpone became visibly defensive when I asked him about his team’s often unglamorous style of play, but given that the team has gone 55-8-10 (.753) over the Sucre twins’ four-year stints, clearly it’s worked. Add back-toback NESCAC titles and a trip to the Elite 8 this fall and you begin to get a sense of what Ale has contributed to Amherst soccer. Ale himself amassed 11 goals and nine assists in four years — numbers one can assume would be higher had he not been sidelined so early into his senior season — and as far as I can tell, after every goal Ale ever scored he sprinted just as ferociously toward his bench to celebrate with his teammates; a sign if there ever were of his total dedication to his team. During Ale’s junior season, he earned All-League and second-team All-New England honors and was named captain for his final season. It was then that the possibility of a professional career beyond Amherst first became possible. But 10 games into this fall season, Ale suffered a fluke injury against Trinity, breaking his ankle and sidelining him for the remainder of the year. Nonetheless, Ale remained his hardworking self, showing up to practice every day, rehabbing his ankle religiously and even, in the waning moments of the team’s NCAA Elite 8 clash with Williams (that they would end up losing in penalty kicks), begging Serpone to put him in despite his ankle still being unhealed. “He really showed his maturity this year, as a captain, when he broke his ankle,” Serpone said. “It was a true test.” For most Div. III athletes, their last game as a senior, no matter how tragic or successful, marks the end of an athletic career. There are the exceptions, and certainly you hear on ESPN about those amazing stories of DIII athletes making it in the pros. Ale might be one of those stories. Despite his injury, assistant coach and scout at the Vancouver Whitecaps Jake DeClute liked Ale because of his rare combination of size and skill. For someone as massive as he is, Ale’s touch is definitively Latin American, meaning he is smooth and seems to coexist more naturally with the ball than any American ever will. And so, the Whitecaps selected Alejandro Sucre with the 67th pick in the Supplemental Draft. This doesn’t mean that Ale has signed a contract; simply that he’s guaranteed a trial with the club this January. Nonetheless, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Amherst striker. “I had no clue that the draft was evening happening, but then I’m sitting in my room after class and get a call from Coach Serpone that Vancouver just drafted me,” Ale said, glowing as he talked. “It’s been unbelievable, man. Just a dream come true.”
Twinning Off the Pitch
Ale’s experience at Amherst, really, spans far wider than the sidelines of Hitchcock Field. A double-major in Economics and Political Science, Ale talked keenly about his interest in the overlap between his two majors. “I find the theory behind both majors interesting, but that’s not what I’m passionate about. What I like most is the international relations aspect,” he
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
Alejandro Sucre (left) was drafted by the Vancouver Whitecaps with the 67th pick in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft. explained, understandably, given he’s only 22 and has studied on three different continents. Ale’s advisor, Economics Professor Frank Westhoff, couldn’t speak highly enough about his insatiable curiosity for economics. “He’s a delight to have in class and incredibly engaged,” Professor Westoff said. “Not to mention how hard he works. To me he personifies what it means to be an Amherst student because of how multidimensional he is.” Given Ale’s skill and dedication to soccer, it seems all the more impressive that he’s still engaged himself so intensely in other parts of Amherst. Perhaps too often Amherst athletes come across as only athletes, but Ale’s four years here can be considered a success even if you somehow never knew he played soccer. He’s been an R.C., run The Option Bookstore with his brother, participated in C.C.E. events like Friends of Jaclyn, and even started a Dominos club. But one of the most important elements of his four years at Amherst has, of course, been the fact that he’s experienced the Fairest College with Federico. “It’s been amazing, having someone who knows everything about your life here. There’s no one who understands my life better than my brother, and sometimes we don’t even need any words to communicate things to each other” Ale said. “It’s hard to explain.” Federico echoed the importance of having one another at Amherst. “We’re competitive, so being here together has raised the bar for both of us. But since we’ve had such similar experiences, we have such great chemistry. And that’s been a great thing for the team, for projects we’ve done,” Fede said. Despite their similarities, the two have managed to branch out from one another and do different things. Federico went abroad last spring to Paris and is majoring in political science and French, while Ale stayed on campus and has focused mostly on economics (only adding the political science double major this year). When asked about what Amherst has taught him, Ale expressed his growing sense of duty toward Venezuela. “You know, that’s my country. And I think there’s a lot to be done, and I re-
ally believe that people like me who’ve had the privilege to go to an institution like Amherst have a duty to go back and do good,” he explained, speaking as eloquently and knowledgeably about Venezuela’s myriad problems as he did about soccer tactics and economics. For now, though, Ale’s got one thing on his mind, and that’s professional soccer.
Vancouver, France & Beyond
As seniors road-trip to Myrtle Beach and slog their way back to Amherst for graduation weekend, Ale will be in France, trying out with several different professional clubs. He’ll need to play as much as he can, and at as high a level as he can, until his trial with Vancouver in January. Given that he hasn’t played since the match in which he broke his ankle on Oct. 9, and the fact that he’ll be competing with the top Div. I and international players, there’s no denying the fact that making the Whitecaps squad will be a tall task. But if one thing’s for certain, it’s that he’s got the right attitude and necessary support around him. And given that Ale’s played only three years of striker, one has to believe (as he does) that the sky’s the limit. Ale will be back at Amherst to celebrate his graduation with his brother, family and friends. But then he’ll be right back over to France, pursing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I received an email a few days ago from Ale, in which he told me he felt he hadn’t adequately expressed how grateful he was for everyone around him. (Going back through notes and audio recordings, this became quickly false.) Perhaps it was the fact that he was arriving in France that day for trials with Lille and Auxerre that he felt especially grateful of his parents and siblings; all his coaches in Venezuela, Wales and at Amherst; and his teammates and friends; or that graduating from Amherst had finally begun to sink in as he sat in an airport somewhere. So keep your eyes and ears out for Ale this summer and next fall, and don’t get confused if you think you see him on campus, because that’s actually Fede, working as a Green Dean in the Admissions Office. And maybe follow him on Twitter, @AleJSucre, because 88 followers is slim, especially for a professional footballer.
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Senior Profile Jisoo Lee
Journalist Brings Worldly View, Activism to Amherst Lee’s literary activism has taken her beyond town and campus, launching into international publication. By Annalise Nurme ’15 I first heard about Jisoo Lee during a Tuesday evening editors’ meeting for The Indicator: we were brainstorming articles, and one proposed topic needed a particularly capable and discerning voice. The immediate chorus was, “Let’s ask Jisoo.” If you have had the privilege of taking a class with Lee, and encountered her insightful comments and discreet, empathetic ear, you likely would agree that her presence in the classroom clearly aligns with a talent and passion for journalism. Throughout her four years at the College, Lee has been an invaluable literary voice both on and off campus, whether contributing to the College’s mesmerizing anonymoussubmission blog for campus sexual assault, documenting her summer work abroad or interviewing various shop owners in town. Having grown up around the world, hers is an exceptionally multicultural outlook, and she’s more than made the most of her stint here at Amherst. After I informed Lee that she would be profiled in the Commencement issue, her response was only self-deprecation and surprise, which was soon contradicted by a litany of testaments to both her character and her accomplishments. As Lee’s close friend Dana Bolger ’13E said, “I’m always struck by her humility — she’s talented and accomplished in a million different ways, but that doesn’t ever seem to be on her mind.”
Biking and Adapting
Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea, an only child and a Korean citizen along with her parents. But starting at two years of age, Lee’s notion of “home” would undertake many transformations. Lee and her family moved to Japan for a year and a half, returning to Seoul until she was four. The family then moved to Geneva, Switzerland, when she was five. At nine years old, Lee moved to Bangkok, Thailand, and then to Beijing, China when she was 15. Lee’s father’s occupation at the International Labour Organization, which has branches in all of these countries, was the reason for these travels. Nowadays, Lee’s parents again reside in Geneva, while Lee has acclimated to the small-town environment of Amherst. “You’d think I would have become accustomed to moving around, but coming to Amherst was probably the hardest move,” Lee said. Having attended international schools for most of her life, Lee was familiar with a relatively diverse student population, as well as English-language instruction. But moving to a rural U.S. town of 30,000 people proved to be a huge cultural shift, vastly different from Lee’s home cities of over 10 million people. It didn’t help that Lee had never been to Amherst in person before stepping off the Amtrak train
just before Orientation. But over her four years at Amherst, Lee has grown to love the scenery. “I tried to adapt by exploring the surrounding areas, because it’s only by exploring unfamiliar territory that I can become comfortable and confident in it,” she said. Lee started running and biking more often, and loves to spot snakes, wild turkeys and rabbits. “I biked around the city sometimes when I lived in Beijing, but you don’t get fresh air, clean streets, trails and woods in a city,” Lee said. She has biked to Montague, Florence, the Quabbin reservoir and South Hadley, and nearly completed a trip to Pittsfield on a cold, snowy ride, where she was “happy to have all [her] fingers and toes afterwards.” “I’m not a fast biker, but I get there,” Lee said. “So getting to know this place physically has been one way I’ve become more comfortable here.” Biking and exploring has been Lee’s method of acclimatization for longer than she admits. Lee’s mother, Nawon Jung, describes the young Jisoo as “very shy and reserved,” partly as a result of the challenges of growing up in five different countries. She recalls the freshly-uprooted Jisoo, age nine, panicking in a Bangkok grocery store and clinging to her mother’s side. But Jung also remembers her daughter biking alone to the center of Beijing upon moving there. “With her adventurous spirit, she ended up making a 1,500-km bike trip in China last summer,” her mother said. “I am very proud of my shy little girl who has become such an adventurer.” Lee undertook the month-long, self-sustained bike tour through China with two friends — one from college and one from high school. They began in Beijing and moved west, then “cheated for about 500km by taking a bus through the deserty parts that just looked extra miserable and windy to bike through.” Lee acknowledges that she has fantastically supportive friends at Amherst, but said, “this trip required a whole new level of giving a shit about each other.”
Lee’s other method of acclimatization stems from her identities as a writer and editor. She served as editor-in-chief of her high school’s Model UN newspaper, but she was also influenced by her mother’s occupation as a freelance journalist. Now an independent photojournalist, her mother recounts her own advice to her daughter: “I tell her two things: You can have your own perspective, but you should not be one-sided as a journalist. You should write for your community, not against it.” Lee seems to have embraced her community through writing. At Am-
herst, she began by joining The Amherst Student and became Managing News Editor her first year. “I had to talk to a bunch of different people across campus to write articles, like the head of dining services, Frost employees, people from different student organizations,” Lee said. “So I got to know the different parts of campus a little more quickly than I would have otherwise.” After her time at The Student, Lee branched out to the town of Amherst for her writing, citing the insularity of the college as preventing her from feeling like a member of the greater community. She also began writing and illustrating for The Indicator, Amherst College’s journal of social and political thought. “My friends and I used to wonder how the typewriter shop, which sells what seems like an obsolete machine, could survive on Amherst’s main street in the 21st century,” Lee said. Naturally, Lee contacted and interviewed the owner, who told her, among many things, about the racist attitudes he had encountered in town as one of the few African-American business owners. And, naturally, Lee didn’t stop there. She spoke to the owner of Paul’s Shoe Repair, a business maintained for 40 years in the same location, to an ESL tutor in Jones Library, and to the tutor’s Tibetan student studying for a learner’s permit. Lee went on to become an ESL tutor at Jones. She also took a journalism class at the Univ. of Massachusetts and interned at the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton this past summer. “I’ve always been pretty shy and quiet, but I like listening to people’s stories, and through journalism, I can connect with people with whom I’d never otherwise cross paths,” Lee said. Lee’s journalistic involvement steered toward and preceded last fall’s media explosion concerning former Amherst student Angie Epifano’s brave article in The Student on her own assault and the shortcomings of the administration’s response. Last spring, Lee took photos for “It Happens Here,” a sexual assault awareness magazine that publishes submissions from Amherst students. After Epifano’s publication, she took photos for the magazine’s response project, where students held signs describing the insensitive comments that counselors, administrators and even friends had made to them. The project was received with acclaim, covered by the Huffington Post and a host of other blogs. Lee’s multimedia pursuits led her to take a video production class this past semester, which has been one of her favorite classes. She also works for Frost Library Digital programs. Noting that the College has been all-male and all-white for the majority of its history, this past semester she began work on a documentary looking at the place of women at the College, which, inevitably, expanded to conversations about race and class. “There are people who feel uncomfortable here — not because the
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
institution actively discriminates against certain marginalized groups, but because it has failed to adapt and update itself to support these newly diverse groups of students. But not everyone knows or understands that there are people who are uncomfortable here,” Lee said. The project was inspired by a documentary made by a group of women at Amherst College in 1988, just over a decade after Amherst went coed, which discusses the experience of being a woman here. This documentary was discovered purely by accident by a friend, buried in Frost’s video section. “Watching this 1988 documentary, my friends and I were struck by how little had changed in the quarter-century since it was made. So I’ve been interviewing students and faculty for the project, and over the summer, I’m going to do some archival research to get a better sense of the history of the College,” Lee said. Lee’s experience with activism and publication also extends to her time outside of college. The summer before her junior year, Lee interned at Beijing Yilian Legal Aid and Study Center of Labor, a legal aid NGO for migrant workers. She did policy research on occupational disease prevention mechanisms, interviewing lawyers and directors of legal aid NGOs who work to improve migrant workers’ rights in China. She wrote an article on legal aid NGOs in China that was published in two international journals. In addition, the summer before her sophomore year, Lee shadowed a foreign correspondent for a Korean newspaper in Beijing, which helped to refine her Korean writing skills. In addition to Korean and English, Lee is proficient in Chinese and French.
According to Bolger, Lee “has an incredible way with people, at drawing them out, getting them to open up to her; she exudes sincerity, honesty, and care.” Bolger also wonders whether most people know how quirky and downright hilarious her friend can be, recounting how Lee once ate an entire cup of sprinkles at Val, just to prove something she had heard about how a film would develop on the roof of her mouth. As one of the most visible sexual respect advocates on campus, Bolger also had a lot to say about Lee’s own role in the matter. “[Lee] has been integral to the anti-sexual violence activism on campus…I think a lot of her activism was born out of watching her friends suffer through rape and abuse, and betrayal on the part of [the College]…to care so much as to fight on [a friend’s] behalf to change things for them and the women after them…I feel completely blessed and undeserving to have been one of the recipients.” Lee’s own comments only confirm these words. “It’s only in the last year or so that I really started to form a deeper political consciousness and gain a better understanding of structural racism and sexism,” Lee said. “I’ve
Photo courtesy of Jisoo Lee
Lee acclimatizes to new environments through outdoor exploration and interviews. been unconscious for so much of my time here, and much of the consciousness gaining has come from experiences outside the classroom. It came from watching friends go through some difficult experiences…and realizing how much these experiences are products of larger social structures. […] It’s been cool to see a sort of collective consciousness gaining among my friends over the years.” Lee’s professor and advisor, Jerry Dennerline, was equally generous in his assessment of Lee, a history major. “When I first met [Lee]…I thought she was rather shy. Then I learned that she was just thinking. She empathized with people, even people who were long dead, and she wanted to compose what she had to say about them. She was very careful. This…has made her a good historian and an excellent writer,” Professor Dennerline said. “When she learns something she writes about it. She doesn’t need school to make her do that. So… she got an article published in the Journal of Undergraduate International Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Neither President Martin nor [her] advisor had anything to do with this,” he said, speaking of Lee’s work that stemmed from her internship at the legal aid NGO. Professor Dennerline also revealed a crucial aspect of Lee’s already-ambitious bike trip last summer. “She wanted to turn that trip into an investigative journalism project, or maybe a Ph.D. project, interviewing migrant workers who had returned to their villages as she cycled through. I think her friends persuaded her to just enjoy the ride. But she will get back to this, I’ll bet.” Lee doesn’t know where she’s headed next. But Professor Dennerline has no question. “She will get on to something else, equally interesting, equally challenging and she will write empathetically, sensitively and intelligently about it. You and I will be reading what she writes, I’ll bet.”
Senior Profile Roger Creel
Jack of All Trades Exemplifies Liberal Arts Education Creel’s wide range of interests and interdisciplinary prowess distinguish him from the crowd. By Jeff Feldman ’15
“From those to whom much is given, much will be expected.” For Roger Creel, those words — one of the many mottos of his high school — did not take on the tone of obligation that might seem to pervade them. Rather, he held onto this quotation dearly, as a reminder that he has been invited to partake in the world wholly and without reservation. And the way Creel has responded to that invitation leads Professor David Soﬁeld, his English adviser, to say that Creel is “the best example, in my 48 years of teaching, of somebody who was a true liberal arts student.” With the end of his Amherst career approaching and a double major completed in English and Geology, the latter department having awarded him summa cum laude and the prize for best thesis of the year, it would be hard for anyone to speak to the contrary.
From the very beginning, Creel immersed himself in what he termed a “swirling mélange” of activities. At age ﬁve, he began his studies in piano; at nine, he traded in his hockey stick for ballet shoes. Throughout high school, he debated and played varsity soccer. “I trained, practiced several hours a day, played in competitions and applied to and was accepted into Oberlin Conservatory for piano performance,” he explained. And yet a concurrent fervor was brewing for his second artistic outlet, dance. “I have memories,” Creel, both wistful and joyful, said, “of jitterdancing around the tile ﬂoors in my kitchen, just not really knowing what to do but ﬂailing around whenever music came on — because it
was impossible not to.” The draw of dance quickly grew on him, fueled by summers of what he calls “ballet bootcamps” and a gap year spent training with the Boston Ballet. It was during that gap year he met Professor Rodger Blum, the director of the Dance department at Smith College. “He was this skinny, alert, hyper kid with way too much energy,” Professor Blum reminisced to me. “He just wanted everything right away, it just had to happen.” Creel’s “everything” didn’t just include piano and dance. From a very young age, his family instilled in him a love for poetry: “We had this tradition…we called them ‘poetry bashes.’ We’d sit around the living room with piles of poetry books around us and go around in circles reading poetry.” And so choosing a school was not merely a matter of deciding where he would receive the best artistic training — Creel was determined to receive a liberal arts education while training to become a professional-class artist. After touring the Five College dance department and Amherst itself, he decided that it was the place for him to do so.
From his ﬁrst-year seminar — Friendship, taught by Professor of English Kim Townsend — Creel distinguished himself as an outstanding student. After taking a seminar with Professor Townsend the next spring, Creel joined a reading group with the professor and a few other students that continued to meet throughout his time at Amherst. Professor Townsend also recommended Creel to Professor Soﬁeld for a poetry seminar.
“He said, ‘I’ve got this magniﬁcent student,’” Professor Soﬁeld told me of Professor Townsend’s correspondence, “‘maybe the most interesting student I’ve ever taught’ — and Kim has taught here for more than 50 years.” After receiving Professor Townsend’s laudatory email, Professor Soﬁeld took Creel, then a sophomore, on as a student in a class on lyric poetry that Professor Soﬁeld co-taught with Richard Wilbur. In class, Creel proved to be a deft critic of poetry, writing a 25-page paper on Wilbur himself and his thenrecent publication, “Anterooms,” that Professor Soﬁeld described as “superb.”
Open Ears, Open Heart
But outside the classroom, Creel demonstrated his interest in erudition through conversation. “I’ve had a lot of conversations with Roger about matters academic,” Professor Soﬁeld said, “But not just academic, because he’s such an accomplished person in various ways — and he’s a wonderful, wonderful conversationalist. He’s a wonderful talker, he’s a wonderful friend.” If there’s one thing Professor Soﬁeld, Richard Wilbur, geology professor Tekla Harms, Professor Blum and Matt DeButts ’14 have in common, it’s that they all have enjoyed and noticed Creel’s superhuman (and yet, inherently human) ability to connect with others. Professor Blum: “I think I’m going to have withdrawal [when he graduates] because he…he really listens.” DeButts: “When you’re talking with him, you don’t feel like he has anywhere else to be.” The driving force behind his abilities a listener seems to be his endless curiosity. “I’m interested in the minds that are around me,” Creel said. “I like the questions they ask, the questions I hadn’t thought to ask, the questions they suggest.” Always looking for something to learn, Creel is eager to engage others about anything — relationships, poetry, dance, 18th century novels of the sea. He told me with his characteristic smile, “It’s all exciting. And Amherst professors have spent their lives trying to get people excited. It seems like a waste not to respond.”
Rocking His Major
Creel began dancing at the age of nine and has participated in several performances during his time at Amherst.
This curiosity is what led Creel to Geology late in his Amherst career. His introductory Geology instructor, Professor Harms, knew he had been hooked after she noticed “learning one new thing about Geology would make him want to know the next thing and ask the right question, the kind of attentive question that shows he’s thinking about the next step.” Creel noticed it too: “I found geology and thought, ‘My gosh, I come out of every Intro Geo lecture trying to grab people and teach them what I just learned. Give me more of this!’” He quickly became a rising star in the department, so much so that the Geology and English departments nearly came to blows while vying
Photos courtesy of Roger Creel
Creel, an English and Geology double-major, will graduate summa and won the top thesis prize in Geology. for a thesis from him. It was with much delight that Professor Harms noted the victor of that battle, and not just out of sheer departmental pride — Creel went on to write a thesis that earned him summa and the top thesis prize in Geology. She truly believes that Creel “has a contribution to make to the ﬁeld.”
And so, Geology was added to Creel’s already-hard-to-keep-trackof litany of interests. Even though his determination seemed endless, this expansion meant that he had to leave behind some aspirations. No longer would he pursue a major in Biology. And as Creel became more involved in the dance world, performing in pieces by Mark Morris and Merce Cunningham, he made the difﬁcult decision to give up rigorous piano training. “I know that was a really hard choice for him,” Professor Blum told me. Creel, recalling difﬁcult periods of his time at college, said, “All I can hope is that we all trust that each of us does what we ought to do most of the time. Or at least attempts it.”
A True Liberal Arts Student
Thus, while he trimmed back on his commitments, he also deepened his passion and knowledge about each of his individual areas of interest, as he put it himself, “curious meandering along the edges of limits.” As a student of multiple ﬁelds — as Professor Harms described him, a “polymath” — Creel can’t help but “take the lessons that I learn from each and bring them back into the core.” While he ﬁnds that his interests often connect — “Dance touches the instantaneous moment of present existence, and geology touches the farthest expanse of time that you cannot comprehend” — he must, as always, be aware of the different worlds he enters when practicing in each ﬁeld.
“It’s an honest existence in each of the spheres,” he said, “not somewhere in a compromising center.” And yet, his creative expressions are delightfully interdisciplinary. He danced the lead role in Professor Blum’s ballet based on the life and works of Leonardo da Vinci; Creel also performed and cochoreographed, with Amherst dance Professor Paul Matteson, a piece based on the lectures of renowned geologist Edward Hitchcock, Jr., a performance I was lucky enough to attend myself. It was a reﬁned work of physicality, taking its spirit from the amusingly lapidary words of Hitchcock directly: “The ability to romp in a manly way ought to be encouraged; it keeps the soul young and elastic.” It was as if Creel, who received a Pease Fellowship to utilize the archives in generating a creative work and had thus only encountered these lectures very recently, had been on the same page as Hitchcock his whole life. Creel’s effervescence and the scope of his accomplishments are hard to capture in such a short piece. I don’t have time to write about the frolic he and Professor Blum shared in the streets of New York City in the rain, all the while discussing geology, or how Creel managed to get a ticket to the ﬁnal performance of a renowned modern dance company, armed with only his charisma and dedication, or about washing the walls of Charles Pratt with DeButts, or how he would listen to his mother recite epic poetry over the phone for hours at a time. But, I suppose, that’s the legacy that Creel leaves — the stories, the lessons, the relationships of the years that have passed. As he goes on to perform with the Louisville Ballet next fall, he will continue to explore his limits, possibly going on to pursue a Ph.D. in geology in the distant future. If his success thus far is any indication of what his future has in store, Professor Harms will be right: “I think he’s one of those people who might be able to have it all.”
THE AMHERST STUDENT: COMMENCEMENT EDITION MAY 24TH, 2013
Senior Profile Keri Lambert
Running Down Her Dreams, With Stops Along the Way Whether it’s her blazing speed or her thirst for knowledge, plenty sets this superstar apart. By Alissa Rothman ’15 Keri Lambert is an amazingly talented person, and don’t let her convince you otherwise. An AllAmerican runner who is currently the national champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Lambert has managed to excel in both her athletics and academics, graduating a History major with a focus in African environmental history. With an inexhaustible curiosity, a love for inspirational quotes and a propensity for pranks, Lambert is situated to gracefully and quietly take over the world, which can only be a good thing for the rest of us.
Born to Run
Born “right up the street” at Cooley Dickinson Hospital on July 18, 1991, Keri Grace Lambert was a spunky, mischievous, tenacious little girl, who never who never saw limits to what she was capable of doing. Growing up just a few miles from campus, Keri was constantly outdoors hiking, swimming, fishing, climbing trees and chasing after her two older brothers. “The summer she turned four, I remember being on the public beach in Megansett, North Falmouth,” recalled her mother Janet Cremins. “The swimming lesson for boys aged 6-8 began on the first day with a race across the beach and Keri’s two older brothers were in the race. Undaunted that she was too young, and that she was a girl, Keri lined up among the boys and ran her heart out.” Besides following her brothers’ footsteps into nearly every sport imaginable, Lambert’s has always been known for her offbeat humor and love of pranks. “Keri has always been a massive prankster, the kind who made you terrified to be the first one asleep if she was at a birthday party sleepover for fear of waking up covered in pretzels or sharpie or who knows what,” said her life-long friend Amelia Quinn. Lambert admits to being a sort of menace as a child. “I was crazy. All through elementary school all of my report cards comments were along the lines of ‘a distraction to classmates, a pleasure to have in class.’ Basically I was a very, very hyperactive child that you could not slow down, from soccer fields to tearing through books way too quickly,” Lambert said. Her brother said Lambert always had her own sense of humor and way of looking at the world. “Her sense of humor clearly comes from outer space,” Tim Lambert teased. “She loves fake accents, but hers bear no resemblance to the way people talk, or ever have talked, in any part of the world. They are also all exactly the same.” By the time she entered middle school, Lambert and her heinous “soft mullet” hairstyle were already very involved in ice hockey (her favorite sport), soccer and softball; she soon added cross country running and eventually Ultimate Frisbee to the mix. As she moved onto Amherst Regional High School, she became
passionate about Latin and reading and began branching out into different subjects, taking drama and acting classes and even a steel drum class. Somehow she managed to balance all of her sports and some of the hardest academics her school had to offer, winning Most Athletic and being named valedictorian her senior year. “I began to realize more and more throughout high school that I really like being really busy. I did way too much in high school. I threw myself into everything,” Lambert said. “I realized that I really like pushing boundaries and branching out.” Though Lambert grew up touring the Amherst College buildings that her father, a carpenter who helped work on buildings like the Beneski Museum of Natural History, Mayo Smith Dormitory and Hitchcock House, she grew up wanting to go to Williams to play hockey. But as her running improved and she shifted towards racing, she began to consider other options. “I think it’s hard to grow up in a college town and not compare every college you visit to the one that is in your backyard, especially when it’s as beautiful as Amherst,” Lambert said. “But then when I was looking at colleges, I started to realize just how awesome the college that was just three miles up the road was. Open curriculum, beautiful campus, small liberal arts school, NESCACs.” Eventually it came down to Williams and Amherst. “I was so close to choosing Williams, the deposit check was made out and I was about to drop it off in the mailbox,” Lambert said. “I just went back inside and emailed the Amherst cross country coach to say ‘hey can I come by for a day of tours?’ I came by, it was one of those beautiful spring days that we all know so well at Amherst, and went to a couple of classes. It just felt right.”
professors here in the history department; Ted Melillo, John Servos, Rick Lopez, Sean Redding,” Lambert said. “They are all fantastic teachers and I’ve taken several classes with all of them. It was just really great professors in that department that I kept wanting to take classes with.” The real turning point in Lambert’s college career, however, was her sophomore summer when she lived in rural village in Sierra Leone for 12 weeks, working as an agricultural intern for a nonprofit organization called OneVillage Partners (OVP), established by Amherst alum Jeff Hall ’86. “No electricity, no running water, my first time out of North America. My friends and family definitely thought I was insane for wanting to go Africa and do an internship where I didn’t know what I would be doing,” Lambert said. “I was totally out of my comfort zone physically, intellectually, professionally. I just did not belong. But I knew if I threw myself into it, tried really hard and asked a lot of questions and had a good attitude towards it that something good could come of it.” Lambert, however, soon fell in love with the place and the people, and ended up writing a thesis on the same villages she had worked in, returning to those villages this past winter to conduct research. “Academically that shaped me, personally that shaped me; that was a huge turning point in my college career,” Lambert said. “I have so much to thank Amherst College for that experience. It has shaped my college experience and my life.”
pectations, fueled by her own curiosity and passion for asking question and for seeking answers. Moreover … Keri demonstrates an unusual commitment to fostering an intellectual esprit de corps that helps inspire her peers to expect more of themselves and to engage their own ideas and research with passion,” said her thesis advisor, Professor Lopez. “The text of her thesis unfolds in ways that move from honest self-assessment toward empathetic analysis of the practices, beliefs and experiences of the people she studies. As she carries this forward in her life, I have no doubt that she will continue to grow as a person and blossom into a leader in whatever field of inquiry into which her interests might lead her.”
Discovering the Past
Following her high school precedent, Lambert plunged into Amherst’s open curriculum, taking classes in subjects ranging from Latin to geology. However, it was her first-year seminar, Drugs in History, that made a lasting impression. “If you had asked me if there was any chance that I would be studying African environmental history in 12th grade I would have said ‘what are you talking about? You’re absolutely insane,’” Lambert said. “But when I got to Amherst my first-year seminar was a history course, which was a subject that I didn’t really like in high school. I found studying history in college to be very different from studying history in high school, where you study from the textbook, whereas here you read primary sources and original material. You read arguments instead of just facts. Through Drugs in History I realized history had a lot more to it.” Lambert continued taking history courses, falling in love with the department and professors. “I really look up to some of the
Photos courtesy of Keri Lambert
Lambert, a Watson Fellow, hopes to complete a Ph.D. in African Environmental History and later become a teacher.
Lambert was an accomplished and record-setting runner during her Amherst career. Upon returning to the College, invigorated from her trip, Lambert delved into her studies, eager to learn more about the place she’d just been. Eventually, she chose to write her thesis on how the Sierra Leone civil war had affected the lives of the people in the three villages she worked on and how development following and immediately before the civil war changed how people manage their resources. “Keri demonstrates for me an ideal Amherst College student: rather than simply doing all the work asked of her, she always pushes beyond ex-
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Involved in many campus activities — for example, she’s been a Resident Counselor for the last three years — Lambert is most well known for her accomplishments in running. A natural athlete, Lambert has gone to cross country nationals three times, winning All-American honors her junior and senior year and placing third in the nation this year. For the last two outdoor seasons she has been All-American in the 5K and last spring she was a national champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. She currently holds the fourth-fastest alltime DIII record in the steeplechase and the distance medley relay she anchored holds the ninth-fastest DIII all-time record. However, she views her greatest accomplishments as those that include other teammates: school records in the distance medley relay and the 4x800. “I think running is one of those things that has shown me that if you want something bad enough and you get after it, you can do it,” Lambert said. “I’ve been inspired, challenged and supported by the people on the team. And honestly they’ve not only made my accomplishments possible, but they’ve made them worth it. Trophies don’t mean anything unless you have people you’ve accomplished them with.” Lambert’s intense focus, respect for her competitors and deep desire to win set her apart from other runners. “Keri is a monster competitor. She wants to win everything she does. Whatever the day calls for — a race, a
hard workout, a long run, a lift — she brings the same enthusiasm and effort, no matter what. Keri is exceptionally skilled at making each of her teammates feel valued and important, and she’s a fabulous motivator,” said Amherst cross-country and track Coach Cassie Funke-Harris. “Our team will really miss her next year — both for the obvious athletic reasons, but also because of her big personality and the leadership that she brings to our team. Next year, I will miss her mischievous smirk, her intelligence and quick wit, her will to win, and the cocky halfsmile on her face right before the gun goes off.”
Besides winning the The Psi Upsilon Prize at the Senior Assembly, Lambert is also a Watson Fellow. Though she will greatly miss burgers fresh off the grill, she is looking forward to spending the next year traveling to Ghana, Tanzania and Malaysia to look at the sociocultural repercussions of masked consumerism through the gap between production and consumption of rubber and Nile perch. “My plan is to go into rural farming and fishing communities and see how people’s lives are impacted by the way they interact with the environment and how the way creating commodities affects their lives. I’ll be keeping a blog to make their local studies global and peer into a world so far away,” Lambert said. “They are the hidden stories that we never get to hear that I’m hoping to bring to light.” Eventually, Lambert hopes use her Beinecke Scholarship to go to grad school to get her Ph.D. in African Environmental History. She plans on one day being a teacher. “Looking back over four year, it’s shocking to think that I’ve been here for four years and how much has changed in those years,” Lambert said. “I came in as a freshman thinking I was going to be a doctor. I think I’ve taken one biology course, and I took it this semester and it was definitely not a premed requirement. I think that here I’ve learned that if you follow what you love it will carry you to places. There is nothing more you can do for yourself and the people around you than to pursue the things that you love and do them to the absolute best that you can.”
Senior Profile Risalat Khan
Environmentalist, Geologist, Mathematician, Friend While Khan has a habit of taking more than his share of classes, his selflessness knows no bounds. By Rainer Lempert ’15
If there is anyone who truly embodies the interdisciplinary spirit of Amherst College, it might be Risalat Khan. Khan has engaged and excelled in a wide variety of Amherst’s academic selections, taking more than four classes nearly every semester and writing an Environmental Studies thesis that featured advanced mathematical modeling. In addition to his schoolwork, Khan participated and became a leader in many different extracurricular activities, including the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) and the International Student’s Association (ISA). The drive behind Khan’s diverse list of accomplishments is, according to academic advisor Tekla Harms, “his strong urge to be knowledgeable about a lot of aspects of human endeavor. Risalat is most passionate about saving the world.”
Making Himself at Home
Khan was born in Bangladesh and raised in Dhaka, the country’s capital city. He went to an English-medium school, where the majority of classes were taught in English. After completing high school Khan planned on attending college in Bangladesh, but his brother encouraged him to apply abroad. Amherst was the only school Khan was directly accepted into, although he was waitlisted at other institutions. “If I had gotten into an Ivy or a bigger school I probably would’ve gone there, but as I look back I’m glad I didn’t get in there,” Khan said. “I think that the kind of education at Amherst was more suitable for me. I like the fact that we have a really small campus and a small environment where you interact with people, especially professors, a lot more effortlessly.” Khan’s arrival at Amherst was the first time he had ever set foot in America. Despite this, he didn’t have a difficult time adjusting to life in the states. “I settled into a rhythm very quickly,” Khan said. “I realized a lot of things about myself, like that I really enjoyed living in the present.” Khan also was able to quickly adjust to the social climate of the College. He enjoyed the multicultural at-
mosphere of Amherst, where he was exposed to, and interested by, the many different backgrounds and experiences his fellow students had. However, not every international student had the same easy transition to Amherst. Khan recognized this and joined the ISA, which became an “integral part” of his sophomore year. Khan coordinated the international student orientations, helping students with both practical support, such as setting up a bank account and cell phone, and also more emotional support. “We provide reassurance mostly, people do figure it out,” Khan said. “Just telling them that it’s fine, you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to be completely comfortable. We grow in college because we are placed in an atmosphere we haven’t faced before.” “I was one year below him, and he was really helpful for us,” Nancy Yun Tang ’14 said. “We didn’t have a cell phone or anything. He took us to the bank, welcomed us all. I really like his energy—he’s so active.” Khan helped organize ISA events throughout the year, including a multicultural dinner, a huge feast with lots of international food. Seventeen different people cooked for the meal. Khan was also heavily involved in the AAS, serving as a senator his junior and senior years. “I first decided to run junior year because I felt that Senate wasn’t doing a great job being representative with the student body,” he said. Khan was heavily involved with the Dining Services committee. This year, he spent more time involved with trying to produce an academic planner for the College website. “It would be great if you could see your entire time at Amherst all at once. From a drop-down menu you could pick a major and see all the courses. This way you could figure out how to structure your major better,” he said. Khan talked to the IT department to try to implement this idea and had it endorsed by several people. There are plans underway to start its development. Khan spent the second semester
Khan studied abroad in New Zealand during his junior year, studying both geology and environmental studies and partaking in rafting, sky diving, bungee jumping, ice climbing and more.
of senior year involved in trying to get Amherst to change the school mascot, the Lord Jeff. “When I came here as a freshman and heard the about the mascot and the story and the history behind it, I thought it was weird and unacceptable. We are celebrating this symbol of genocide and oppression at a progressive institution,” Khan said. “Senior year, when I thought about I wanted to do on campus, the mascot stood out as an issue to me.” Khan was planning on holding a town hall-style meeting regarding the mascot first semester of the year, but when the dialogues regarding sexual respect came up he decided that it wasn’t the right time to discuss this issue. “We ended up having the meeting in the spring. One hundred people or so showed up and there was a good discussion,” Khan said. Khan also discussed this issue with faculty and staff. The Committee of Six unanimously passed a resolution to figure out how to replace the mascot. “I’m trying to put in place as much of the groundwork as possible so it can be carried forth in a responsible manner,” Khan said. “I knew it was going to be a multiyear project, and I’m going to continue to be involved as an alum.”
In addition to all of his extracurricular work (which also includes working for The Amherst Student, being involved with the South Asian Student Association and working as a photographer, among other things) Khan has made the most academically of his time at Amherst. “Risalat and I had biannual armwrestling matches about whether he could take five, six, seven, eight courses,” Professor Harms said. “He is a very persuasive young lad and almost always had really good arguments for why this was important for his education.” Khan is a double-major in Environmental Studies and Geology. “My dad is an environmental activist so I knew about environmental issues growing up,” Khan said. “Because of that I knew I wanted to try out environmental studies. Geology attracted me initially because you get to go to cool places on field trips. I realized that they [geology and environmental studies] were a good fit together.” For a while Khan was also considering a math major, but in the end he decided against it, wanting to learn new and different things with his liberal arts education. However, Khan was able to incorporate his mathematical knowledge into his environmental studies thesis. His thesis was focused on modeling agricultural decision-making processes, specifically how farmers decided whether or not to adopt sustainable practices. For all of Khan’s work, both extracurricular and academic, he was awarded the Thomas H. Wyman 1951, an award given to a member of the senior class “who best represents the highest standards in scholarship, athletics, and/or extracurricular activities, community service, integrity, character and humanism as determined by the Dean of Students and the Prize
Photos courtesy of Risalat Khan
You’d never hear it from him unless you asked, but Khan won the prestigious Walker prize for ingenuity in mathematics. Committee,” according to the College website.
Friends and Future
Despite all of the many things Khan does around campus, he never seems anxious or strained, according to suitemate David Sze ’13. Sze describes Khan as a smart, fun and entrepreneurial, although he may have a slight lazy streak in him. “He tied a string to light switch so he could turn off his light while he was laying in bed,” Sze said. Khan is “very nice and generous – he took senior portraits for a lot of his friends for free.” Khan is also humble. “He’s never proud and boastful about achieving so much, never displays his achievements. He won the Walker Prize [for the best score on an exam of mathematical ingenuity] and I didn’t know about it until I looked at his Linkedin account,” Sze said. “He’s a really cool guy, a really sweet person,” Tang said. Khan is also adventurous, willing to do new and crazy things. “He’s one person I’ve always wanted to travel with,” Sze said. Khan certainly had many adventures during the time he spent traveling his junior year, when he studied abroad in New Zealand. “It was a great program, Earth Systems, that integrated both geology and environmental studies,” Khan said. “I found out about the program late freshman year and made up my mind then that I was going to do it.” During this trip Khan made it a goal to try to do as many new things
as he could. Consequently, he ended up making lasting memories sky diving, bungee jumping, snorkeling in a coral reef, swimming with sharks, hitchhiking and glacial ice climbing. “Every time you go into a new atmosphere you learn new things about yourself,” Khan said. Khan will be entering a new atmosphere next year at a social entrepreneurship program in Boulder, Colo. called Watson University. Watson is a program where 18 fellows spend four months or so in a residential environment, taking short masters courses from leaders in various fields. The fellows brainstorm and generate ideas to solve various social problems. “I’m excited to be around really cool people,” Khan said. “I’m also excited to be in Boulder, which is one of my favorite cities.” After graduating from Watson University, Khan doesn’t yet know what he will pursue. “[Risalat] hasn’t identified what exactly he is trying to put his energies to,” Professor Harms said. “But it is remarkable what he has done so far and if you project that trajectory out into the future I expect him to accomplish a lot.” “He has been able to keep himself focused on a small number of sociopolitical issues that might capture his attention,” Professor Harms continued. “There’s a whole lot about Amherst that might have offended him, namely our privilege and our consumption. He’s been able to both embrace this place and hold a mirror up to it and ask it to be the best it can.”
Congratulations to the amazing Class of 2013. We wish you all a lifetime of happiness and success. Jonathan and Rachel Albert
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Senior Profile Dana Bolger ’14E
Women’s Rights Advocate Leaves Mark on Campus After experiencing violence, a survivor adapted into one of the strongest activist on campus By Erik Christianson ’14 and Alissa Rothman ’15 Perhaps no one has left a greater impact on campus in the last year than Dana Bolger. The soft-spoken, but persistent Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought (LJST) major has risen to become one of the most exemplary and visible advocates for women’s rights and issues of sexual assault on campus. The co-founder and co-editor of It Happens Here, an organization and magazine about sexual violence at the College, Bolger became widely known on campus after publishing an article on AC Voice about an underground fraternities misogynistic tshirt, which in turn prompted discussion on campus and paved the way for Angie Epifano’s account. Since then, Bolger has become a national advocate, continuing to contribute to the discussion at the College and around the nation concerning sexual assault and sexism, publishing articles in Feministing, the Huffington Post, and The New York Times online, just to name a few. Bolger has, and continues to, work tirelessly to ensure that the stories of survivors like her are heard.
Coming into her Own
Born in Bethesda, Md., Bolger moved around several times in her childhood due to her father’s job in the Navy before the family settled down in St. Louis, Mo. following her father’s retirement from the service. With a much older half-sister, Bolger grew up an only child, though the family always had little kittens running around that they had taken in as fosters from their local Humane Society, along with the dog and two cats the family owned. “I was really shy as a child,” Bolger said. “In a lot of ways I still consider myself a shy person, which has surprised some of my friends here. I still have a hard time speaking up in some of my classes.” In high school at a small private high school called John Burroughs, Bolger began to find her interests, as she grew into her own through reading, writing and language. “I took the regular high school courses — biology, chemistry, physics, history, English, calculus, etc. I loved bio and thought I’d like to be a doctor,” Bolger said. “Then I took physics, hated it, and realized my interests lay outside the sciences.” Bolger maintained a wide range of interests throughout high school, from playing flute in her high school’s band to playing tennis on the varsity team. Bolger was also very active on the Model U.N., both the St. Louis Area Model U.N. and The Hague International Model U.N., and led her school’s community service club. Bolger was very involved in community service, volunteering as a tutor at the International Institute, a community organization that served refugees and immigrants. Bolger was also an academic standout, receiving a National Merit Scholarship as a senior.
Bolger entered Amherst eager to see what the Fairest College had to
offer. She delved into studies, taking a class called Psychoanalysis and the Law with Professor Adam Sitze, which immediately hooked her into the LJST major. She also lived in the Asian Culture House, as well as continuing her volunteering streak, spending her first and sophomore years tutoring adults in Holyoke to get there GEDs. “This was, and is, really important work for people to be doing, but at the time, I had a pretty poor understanding of what I was doing and why— meaning, I lacked a comprehension of the roots of the problem, the broader issues and institutional structures contributing to it, how tutoring fit into, or played a role in, it, and how I might have wanted to have addressed these issues in other ways,” Bolger said. However, everything changed for Bolger when she was raped and stalked by a fellow student. “I started having nightmares and flashbacks and when he began threatening my friends, I finally reported it to an administrator, who urged me to take time off until my assailant graduated,” Bolger said. “At the time, I had no idea that what the Dean had said was not just unethical but also illegal under Title IX.” Bolger took a semester off following her attack. When she returned to campus, Bolger joined a survivors group on campus and began hearing other students’ stories. “I realized that other survivors had experienced a similar spectrum of responses from the administration — everything from ineptitude to institutional neglect and betrayal,” Bolger said. The unfairness of the situation awakened something within Bolger. “I distinctly remember sitting in Val one day, watching a few students who I knew had assaulted some of the other women in the survivors’ group walk by, and I started crying. Everyone was eating lunch in Val, finishing homework, laughing with friends and I began feeling all this rage building up inside of me that people could be living their lives so normally while others were being raped, stalked, harassed and abused on the same campus — and that the institution was doing nothing to stop it,” Bolger said. “This was the first time I saw injustice as unfair and unnatural. This was when I began developing a political consciousness.” Bolger decided to take action. On campus, she wrote for and performed in the Women of Amherst show, as well as co-founding It Happens Here, an organization dedicated to acknowledging and ending sexual violence at the College, with Kinjal Patel ’13 and Sonum Dixit ’13. “People are sometimes surprised to hear that I didn’t identify as a feminist when I came to Amherst,” Bolger said. “My personal experience of violence on this campus politicized me. I don’t give credit to the institution as a whole for that, but to the individual friends and professors who supported me and taught me so much.”
One of her most popular articles, entitled “Surviving at Amherst College,” is a photo essay of current and former Amherst students who said they had been sexually assaulted, holding signs with insensitive comments they had heard from students and administrators, which she put together with friend and fellow activist Jisoo Lee ’13. “She doesn’t section off a time to talk about the issues she’s passionate about, the way you might set aside a time for a club meeting – she lives and breathes them, and she’s always looking to further educate herself on sexism, racism, classism, and other forms of oppression,” Lee said regarding Bolger. “It’s been incredible to watch her getting stronger, wiser and more confident everyday. I remember when things were very bleak for her in the fall of our junior year, and I’m staggered by how she has turned such a negative experience into actions that are so positive. Seeing her undergo this radical transformation to start fighting and raising awareness about institutional oppression and apathy, and empowering survivors and women – it’s something I wouldn’t have expected at the time. I have learned so much from her this past year and a half and I know she’s reached many people’s consciousness with her activism.” Bolger remains extremely passionate about changing the culture at Amherst and hopes that this year’s events will help raise awareness for the changes that are needed. “There’s a culture of elitism and privilege at this school. We go to Amherst and we think we know everything, we think we are fully alive to the world. I don’t think that’s true,” Bolger said. “I went through my first three years at Amherst asleep — and by that I mean, ignorant of my place here and in the world, ignorant of the ways in which claiming an ‘apolitical’ or unquestioningly liberal, rather than progressive, identity was in fact deeply political and complicit in the abuses I was reading about in my textbooks, ignorant of just how high the stakes were in what I was reading, writing, doing in my daily life. I don’t think I’m the only person here who was asleep.” Bolger has also brought her fight to the national level, interning at a progressive women’s organization in Washington D.C. last summer as well as working with the IX Network, a collective of student-survivors and their allies across the country, who are currently launching the Know Your IX campaign, which aims to educate every college student in the U.S. about their Title IX right to an education free from violence and harassment. She has contributed to Feministing, the Huffington Post, and The New York Times online, among other publications, covering a wide range of issues surrounding gender and inequality, as well as sexual assault. Her written work on athletic culture, the gendered wage differential in America, Title IX and other hot topics are well-researched and filled with captivating human stories, demonstrating the intensity of her passion in these topics. “One of the biggest challenges for me in this past year at Amherst was learning to talk to reporters,” Bolger said, citing her natural shyness. “I’ve
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Photos courtesy of Dana Bolger
Bolger is co-founder and co-editor of “It Happens Here,” an organization and magazine about sexual violence at the College. found that blogging also takes a certain level of confidence — of believing that you have something important to say — that I had to develop. I have had tremendous role models, especially among my friends, who have encouraged me all along the way.” Her involvement continues to grow as she looks to life beyond school. Just this past week, Bolger traveled to the Department of Education in Washington D.C. to testify about campus rape and the Violence Against Women’s Act. “It’s been incredible meeting kickass men and women across the country who are angry and fed up with their schools’ responses to genderbased violence. The amount of energy I’m seeing nationally makes me so hopeful for a day when rape will not be viewed as an inevitable fact of college life,” Bolger said. “Everything we’ve seen at Amherst this year is not just an Amherst problem—it’s national, it’s societal. But I think it’s important not to spread responsibility so wide as to dilute or justify Amherst’s complicity. There are institutional structures and policies—whether formal or informal—on this campus that reproduce and maintain a culture in which sexual violence is not only rampant but also tolerated and even condoned.” Bolger is also known for her compassionate listening, and her willingness to reach out to and support others. “Dana is an inspiration to all of us — the first time I met her was actually on Facebook doing what she does best, spiritedly debating against rape culture and for feminist politics on campus. Every encounter I’ve had with her since reinforces that first impression: someone who is sweet and kind to talk to, but who is unapologetically firm in her views, passionate for what she believes in, and strong beyond measure,” Meghna Sridhar ’14 said.“She was intensely smart, but at the same time came across as really kind and gentle. Always willing to make a new friend, to listen and share her opinion alike, I knew right from that day that this girl was one of the coolest people I would meet at Amherst College.”
A Bright Future
Since she is a ’14E, Bolger will be returning to campus next semester after interning this summer at the Office on Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice, where she hopes to get a better sense of whether she wants to pursue non-profit, grassroots organizing or government work in the future. After she graduates, she hopes to continue pursuing social justice work and eventually plans to go to law school or public policy school. As of now, Bolger has mixed feelings about her time at the College. “They say college is supposed to be the best time of your life. Amherst has not been the best time of my life. I have learned a lot — more outside the classroom than within it — and have gotten to know some incredible people. But it has not been a walk in the park, and I think that this is true for many other students here as well. It’s important to note, though, that my experience here does not invalidate other people’s experiences — who may have loved Amherst — just as theirs do not invalidate mine. To people who are happy here: I’m glad you love Amherst; I wish I loved it, and I wish my friends had loved it here,” Bolger said. “In the future, maybe we can create space for students who are not happy to share their experiences and have them heard and validated, rather than questioned and challenged. I wish that people here, and beyond, were critical of the institution, its policies, its narratives of ‘history’ and the ideologies it (re)produces, rather than of people’s experiences and identities.” She hopes that in the future the College will develop more of a feminist, anti-racist, anti-oppression consciousness, and encourages students to take a sociology, a Black Studies, or a WAGS course before graduating. People who are interested in supporting causes such as these should consider donating to the Know Your IX, campaign, which will be used to develop an extensive website with resources and fact sheets, run a huge social media campaign and print full page ads in student newspapers about students’ rights and colleges’ responsibilities.
Senior Profile Lindsay Stern
The Sublime Vanishing Point Of A Gifted, Daring Mind A successful writer, philosopher, and humanitarian, Stern is taking literature to new heights. By Ethan Corey ’15
A rug doctor who loses his shadow, a scientist who discovers that the sky contains a hidden message in Braille, a philosopher who chokes to death on a premise of his own argument. These are just some of the curious and fascinating characters to emerge from the rareﬁed heights of Lindsay Stern’s imagination.
A Powerful Intellect
As her friends and professors can attest, Stern is a curious and fascinating character herself: a published author, Watson fellow, former editor-in-chief of The Indicator and English and Philosophy double major, Stern devotes her life to exploring the more challenging questions in life and moving past the stultifying dichotomies and categorizations that often hamper thinking in everyday life. Professor Adam Sitze, who has taught Stern in three of his classes, praised her literary and intellectual talents and lauded her attitude towards life and philosophy. “Lindsay is a gifted, daring writer. Her literary experiments are driven by her powerful intellect. She is especially skilled at bringing together, in effortless and unforced prose, the impasses of contemporary mathematical theory with the aporias of classical political philosophy. Her work on irony in Plato is dazzling, vertiginous, even Kierkegaardian. Her mind operates at
that sublime vanishing point where extreme seriousness and extreme playfulness become indistinct. She devotes herself to her work with ﬁerce determination and discipline, but she is the furthest thing from humorless. She is a generous and empathetic soul, with a taste for the absurd and a talent for friendship,” Professor Sitze said. Stern, a native of New York City, came to the College looking for a tight-knit and community-oriented environment where she could learn from professors who had time to mentor their students. She credits the College for encouraging her to have conversations with others that challenged her beliefs and helped her improve her capacities to think. “I used to be an extremely conﬂict-averse person, and I deﬁnitely learned to be the opposite here. When you’re conﬂict-averse, you don’t really speak to people; you don’t stand for things,” Stern said. “There’s a great Bertrand Russell quote that goes ‘Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for…the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.’ The idea that you can have an intelligent argument with someone presupposes a level of solidarity,” Despite her gift for gab, Stern’s primary passion has been writing for as long as she can remember. In my interview with her, she recalled that when she was young, she would
Stern, who was named a 2013 Watson Fellow, will spend her time after graduation traveling to Cambodia, Nepal, South Africa and Latin America.
write letters to strangers and toss them out her 13th ﬂoor window. Additionally, Stern’s friend Deidre Nelms ’13 said that Stern has a penchant for aphoristic thinking that can sometime lead her to strange places. “Sometimes Lindsay speaks in aphorisms, and sometimes it’s really beautiful and you’re like ‘Oh my god, how did you come up with that?’ But other times you’re like ‘Lindsay, what?’ One time we were walking back from the Socials and she said that the leaves on the ground looked like severed hands. That pretty much sums up Lindsay. She has very poetic moments,” Nelms said.
Don’t Call It A Novel
In fall 2012, Scrambler Books published Stern’s “document” — she won’t let you call it a novel — Town of Shadows, which describes through a series of literary fragments and vignettes the strange but deeply human lives of Pierre and Selma in a dystopian town led by a mayor with a penchant for bizarre and arbitrary rules, such as a ban on the use of vowels. Stern decided to write Town of Shadows after an internship fell through during the summer after her sophomore year, using the writing process as an opportunity to explore philosophical questions that had captivated her for a long time. I had an internship that was really hideously boring at Star Magazine, a paragon of trash entertainment. I hadn’t known it was for Star; I’d signed up as an editor for an alum who needed help. His ofﬁce was covered with pictures of bikiniclad people with the worst tag-lines imaginable, so I was looking forward to a really bleak summer. But then he canceled the project, and I had absolutely nothing to do,” Stern said. “In writing the book I found a means of conducting thought experiments in a kind of mischievous and subversive way, rather than in a dry, analytical style, so the act was liberating for me in that sense. I didn’t really expect it to get published or anything; I just sort of randomly sent it out from Morris Pratt one night in sophomore year.” While mere mortals may have been exhausted after writing a book that ManArchy Magazine called one of the top ﬁve best books published in 2012, Stern wasted no time writing another “document” (that’s her word for it) for her English honors thesis. Continuing her penchant for daringly philosophical literature, her thesis explores the relationship between language and reality, focusing on a group of individuals who seek to prove that the world is a language. “One of the main characters publishes photos of the sky in the newspaper and then decodes them in Braille. I wanted to investigate how the act of decoding the world might function as an allegory for science and religion—in other words, as a means of exploring how both set out, in radically different ways, to treat the natural world as a language. All-in-all the thesis is partfable, part-dialogue, about a society
Photos courtesy of Lindsay Stern
Stern is the author of several books and poems, including Town of Shadows, which was published in October 2012. united and estranged by its use of signs,” Stern said. “It was deﬁnitely a response to abiding questions I had and still have about the role of language in politics and private understanding. What I write is almost always motivated by impasses I’ve encountered in my classes and elsewhere, and these documents serve as a sort of a whimsical way to think through those impasses.” Although one might think that producing such abstract works that are almost Icarian in their efforts to explore seemingly impossible questions would isolate Stern in her own thoughts, Nelms quickly notes how human and humble she is, despite her publicity and literary success. “She’s just a really warm, supportive person,” Nelms said. “She’s exuberant; she’s just a really giving person with her friends. There’s just a lot of vitality to her; she’s really funny… She has a lot of humility. She’s had a lot of pieces written about her and she’s been publicized and bragged about by the College a lot, but she’s been very humble and not arrogant. At her reading at Amherst Books she was very poised but it wasn’t grandiose or anything like that.”
Ideas into Practice
Stern’s passions aren’t restricted to the world of thought, however; she is deeply concerned with putting her ideas into practice. In her sophomore year at the College, she designed a free creative writing program for disadvantaged children in Holyoke, called WordBox. Sterns rates this experience among one of her most meaningful during her time at the College. “The children came from disadvantaged families and some of them had never heard the word ‘imagination.’ To see them electriﬁed by the act of recording their memories and inventions was an honor and a total counterpoint to the passively cynical attitude I’ve sometimes noticed at Amherst,” Stern said. This experience motivated Stern to look at the ways in which creativity, imagination and education intersect, a pursuit that Stern will continue after graduation as a Watson fellow, traveling across the
Southern hemisphere to places like Cambodia, Nepal, South Africa and Latin America to teach children living in orphanages and write about her experiences. “I went when I was eleven to adopt my sister from an orphanage in China, and ever since I’ve felt a sense of responsibility to go back to environments like that. I also want to help bring the act of writing— a liberating act so often conﬁned, ironically, to hermetic, academic settings—to people who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to it,” Stern said. While she is somewhat concerned about the linguistic and cultural barriers that she will have to cross in her work, she has been exploring alternative methods of teaching to overcome those issues, describing how she sees the communication challenge as an opportunity for innovation. “I’m reading a lot of people who have thought about how to incorporate creativity into education, and I’m trying to integrate those theories into a program that would operate across language barriers. There’s one very cool woman who won a Macarthur [Genius Grant] for her work. She brought a roll of duct tape into the classroom, made a square with the duct tape and told the students: ‘This is your stage, now act out a story.’ The idea is to teach narrative without constraining students to a page,” Stern said.Looking further down the road, Stern would like to continue to write and think, possibly as a college professor or a teacher. “I deﬁnitely want to go back and study ancient political thought in graduate school. I would love to become a professor if that works out, but it’s not my motivation in going to graduate school. I would be just as happy teaching high school or even little kids. Basically I just want to continue writing and thinking and doing so in the company of others,” Stern said. No matter where she goes in life, Stern will always carry with her vicious curiosity about the abstract, her passion for language and her commitment to making a difference in the here and now.
THE AMHERST STUDENT: COMMENCEMENT EDITION MAY 24TH, 2013
Senior Profile Joe Taff
From Epic to Electric, Musician Masters Styles, Sounds
Photos courtesy of Joe Taff
Taff’s original music thesis “Gilgamesh and Enkidu,” based on the Epic of Gilgamesh, was performed in January 2013 and drew unusually strong praise from the Music Department.
Whether it’s singing, shredding, composing or conducting, this remarkable musical virtuoso can — and will — do it all. By Karl Greenblatt ’15 Before Joe Taff got a haircut last summer, one could easily have confused him with a certain religious figure. To be fair, he has probably heard that joke a few too many times, but, if you’ve ever witnessed his guitar chops firsthand, you know the comparison is more than appropriate. Still, don’t make the mistake of trying to define Railyard Conspiracy’s six-string hero based on that alone. Look up “musician” in the dictionary, and you will probably find Taff’s picture there. Name the musical style, and he has probably mastered it. At a
Congratulations, Diana! We love you and we are so proud!
school full of immensely talented individuals, Taff has been one of the most consistently — and deservedly — visible during his Amherst tenure.
Taff, a graduate of the Commonwealth School in Boston, said that high school kept him busy both academically and musically, though he also played soccer, basketball and baseball there. When it came time for the next step, Taff knew he wanted a liberal arts education, but, to him, location mattered. “[Amherst] appealed to me because it was actually near other good schools and in a nice town,” Taff said. “It had the personal vibe of a small school, but it also had access to Northampton and the Five Colleges — and, importantly, all the music that the valley and the Five Colleges generates. I knew there would be great acts coming through here and plenty of people and groups to sing and play with.”
Making Himself Heard
Love, Dad, Mom, Lizzy & Rissy 12
Taff certainly found such groups at Amherst, starting with the College’s Choral Society. He was a member of Glee Club for his first three years (and made time to rejoin the group his senior spring), where he served for a time as business manager and, eventually, vice president. Taff was also a member of the Madrigal Singers, which he directed during his sophomore year, and, this fall, Taff broadened his horizons by singing with Concert Choir. I myself had the privilege of singing with Taff in Glee Club during my first year and again this spring. As a
new member of the group and a fellow bass/baritone, I quickly learned that Taff was gifted with perfect pitch and was rock-solid on every song in our repertoire. If you were in the bass section and ever got a little lost, he was the guy you wanted to be standing next to. His voice had, in the words of choral director Mallorie Chernin, a “wonderful, rich color” that was unmistakable yet never overpowering. Ultimately, Taff’s expertise led Chernin and the rest of the music faculty to select him as the department’s teaching assistant for 2013-14. Taff is quick to give credit to the previous teaching assistants under whom he sang — particularly Jeremy Koo ’12, whom he calls “a tough act to follow” — but he and Chernin, who praised Taff’s “calm demeanor and thoughtfulness,” are excited for next year. Interestingly, Taff hasn’t always been a singer. He only started sophomore year in high school when his advisor suggested it as a method for further improving his guitar playing. “But then,” Taff admitted, “I realized singing was pretty fun on its own.”
Jack of All Trades
For three of his four years, Taff played guitar in a jazz combo as well as the “big band” ensemble. There, he further dazzled faculty and fellow students with his musical skill and fluency. But Taff’s generosity continued to be equally impressive. Music Professor Bruce Diehl, the leader of the College’s jazz program, recalls that, in Taff’s junior year, he volunteered to play bass — not his primary instrument — to allow Diehl to create another combo. In Diehl’s mind, this is just another example of how Taff “really impacted the department in a positive way.” Music Professor David Schneider, who taught Taff in a music theory class, sees Taff’s excellence in both choral music and jazz as a testament to his musical versatility. “Joe is a student of unusual breadth and ability,” he said. “It’s unusual for one musician to be at home in so many different styles, but, for Joe, it’s natural.”
Incidentally, that was also when Taff had lunch with David Ferry ’46, the poet behind the adaptation of the epic that Taff so admired. As an audience member at the performance of “Gilgamesh and Enkidu,” I spent most of the performance sitting in awe at the fact that a mere undergraduate had managed to pull off such an ambitious work. His advisor, Professor Eric Sawyer, felt the same way. “Joe is one of those occasional students whose thesis proposal draws a reflexive response of, ‘You’re going to do WHAT? A Baroque opera about the Epic of Gilgamesh?’” Sawyer said. “But Joe went ahead and did just that — and with a great deal of individuality within his Baroque-inflected language.” Sawyer also noted, “Joe approached the work without grandiosity and with infectious interest of discovery. Crucially, he never doubted that the story was worthy of illumination for a modern audience, and eventually he and his piece left no doubt that it indeed was.” Though Taff is rarely so effusive in praise of himself, he readily acknowledged the value of his thesis process in preparing him for next year and beyond. “It was awesome,” Taff said. “It was definitely a really helpful crash course in leading rehearsals — it’s different when you’re in front of the group and, especially, when it’s your composition! It was also enough fun that it’s part of the reason that I’m now thinking at least as much about going into conducting as going into composition.”
When I told Taff that I saw his blues-funk-rock band, Railyard Conspiracy, as the “musical face of Amherst,” he just laughed. Truthfully, though, what event or gig around the College has “RYC” not played? In addition to playing on campus and in the Five College area, the band recently released its first EP, “City of Lights,” on which Taff plays lead guitar and holds songwriting credits. (If
you haven’t heard it yet, check out my personal favorite tracks, “Boston” and “Dream People.” If you’re a guitar player, Taff’s solos on those cuts — and throughout the record — are definitely worth learning.) Taff said about the experience of recording the EP, “That was crazy — we spent so much time in the studio. We had a weekend where we did like 16 hours. You think you know a song until you bring it in for recording, and you actually scrutinize what everyone is playing, and things that don’t occur to you in performance suddenly jump out at you. We found ourselves really questioning every compositional decision, which was cool.” For Taff, playing with the band has been “a ton of fun.” “We don’t know what we’ll be doing next year [when drummer E.J. Nisbeth ’13 graduates], but we will definitely be playing together somehow.” Bandmate Ben Muller ’14, Railyard Conspiracy’s keyboard and saxophone player, reflects fondly on his time spent with Taff so far. “Joe is wonderful to collaborate with,” he said. “He’s incredibly responsive, his sense of phrasing is excellent and he always knows exactly what to play to fit the groove. Getting to play with him has made me a better musician.”
The Next Gig
After serving as the music department’s teaching assistant next year, Taff is, not surprisingly, considering a wide range of possibilities within the field of music as career choices. “I’m thinking about conducting,” Taff said “And I could see myself teaching music theory at some point. I could potentially go to grad school for any of those things right out of next year, but that could also be kind of sudden. I certainly want to do something in music; it’s just a question of getting a sense of what kinds of things are out there.” What’s out there for Joe Taff? If you ask anyone who has taught or worked with him, almost anything.
An Epic Performance
Perhaps Taff’s magnum opus as a music student was his senior thesis, “Gilgamesh and Enkidu,” performed in January of this year with the help of 16 student singers and musicians. The idea for the piece, a Baroque opera based on the first half of the ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, occurred to Taff in stages. Taff, who also has a strong interest in history, first read an adaptation of the epic before entering high school and was mesmerized, particularly by “the themes of mortality and companionship.” Once in college, Taff began to realize that the Baroque style would be well-suited to a musical interpretation of the text, particularly given the Baroque tradition of using ancient mythology as the basis of librettos. From there, Taff wasted no time. “I actually started adapting the text the winter of my sophomore year,” he said. “And I started coming up with music shortly thereafter. But I did a lot of the writing last summer.”
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Perhaps best known as the lead guitarist in Railyard Conspiracy, Taff combines his skill with unusual musical versatility.
Senior Profile Andrew Erskine
He Can Go the Distance, On and Off the Track A former “bum” turned runner and math whiz, Erskine leaves Amherst with multiple records smashed. By Jessie Kaliski ’15
Despite running over 80 miles a week, Andrew Erskine always finds himself in bed before 11:00 p.m., leaving enough time to have memorized every Disney song, accurately sung upon request — perhaps not in tune, but at least in character. However, Erskine’s passion is not for theatre, but rather for math. Graduating with a double-major in Math and Computer Science, Erskine has mapped out his life — on and off the track — with precision and calculation.
I’ll Make a Man...
“In the Jewish religion, you name children after deceased family members,” Erskine said. His parents wanted to name him in memory of his great-uncle Albert, but preferred the name Andrew, which started with the same initial sound. Growing up in Stamford, Conn., Erskine attempted a variety of sports and clubs, and the ones that stuck were tennis and chess. But, as it happened, his passion for these activities slowly subsided “My brother could serve the tennis ball and I couldn’t, so I got discouraged and quit in fifth grade,” Erskine said. Similarly, after competing in a chess tournament with a bad fever and losing all his matches, Erskine (for the time being) crossed chess off his list of hobbies. Currently, however, Erskine dominates a small three-person chess league on the cross-country team. Erskine describes his middleschool self as “a bum,” and not exactly a nerd, for he sat playing video games after school and was not acquiring the near-perfect GPA that he has now. After all those hours of playing video games, his hard work seems to have paid off. “I was ranked top thousand in the U.S. East [for Warcraft 3],” Erskine said.
And perhaps these countless hours indirectly cultivated Erskine’s skills in computer science or, at least, made him “unbeatable” at Super Smash Brothers among the men’s cross-country and track teams. While he was in high school, Erskine’s parents became worried that his lack of extracurricular activities would be detrimental to his college career. “My mom told me I had to participate in an activity — any sport, any club — during at least one part of the year, or else I wasn’t allowed home,” Erskine said. Remembering his great-uncle Cliff’s suggestion that he might be a good runner, Erskine decided to pick up a pair of running sneakers and join the cross-country team. On the first day of practice, Erskine started his running career with a 6:55 mile during a time trial for all first-years. “I thought I was amazingly fast,” Erskine recounted. However, he soon realized that his first mile was far from admirable. Throughout his first year, Erskine saw himself hitting personal records every race. “My 5K times were very slow for most of the season, starting off with 23:30, but by the end of the season I was 20:30 which is not amazing, but it put me third on the team,” Erskine said. Not only did Erskine make his parents proud by participating in an activity for one season, but he also decided to join the indoor and outdoor track teams, making him a three-season athlete. A major milestone in Erskine’s high school running career was the first time he broke 10 minutes in the two-mile. Despite beginning the race too slowly, the motivating words of the sprinting coach “not to waste the race” prompted Erskine to pick up the pace, finishing far ahead of the
pack with a first-place victory.
A Whole New World
These days, Erskine, waking up between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. — running on a glorious nine to 10 hours of sleep — begins every morning with an egg sandwich and a pastry. Knowing the Valentine menu backwards and forwards, Erskine seems to have a mental tier that ranks each of the dishes. Although chicken enchiladas have a high standing (for the meal is accompanied by nachos and corn bread), vegetable lasagna comes in as a close second, which is notable since Erskine usually steers clear of vegetables. “I know way too much about Val because of [Erskine],” remarked Dillon Buckley ’13, a friend and teammate. Before meeting Erskine for the first time, Buckley remembers friending him on Facebook and recalling that “his photo made it seem like he was really tall and a big dude. And then when I met him, he was much shorter than I thought.” His personality, though, was far from miniscule. “Andrew is someone who brings a totally crazy and different perspective to issues, because his mind is so logical at times.” In fact, Erskine has started “Riddle Wednesday” at practice, whereby he gives the team a math problem to solve. “It hasn’t really caught on… [but] a lot of people like them,” Buckley said. Teammates and coaches admire Erskine for his dedication and consistency. “I suppose it’s weird,” remarked Erik Nedeau, cross-country and track coach. “I could say it was winning New England’s in the 10K, qualifying for Nationals in crosscountry, but I think the biggest success is that he is graduating with a 3.95 [GPA] and finding the time to accomplish the great things he has done with running.” Although Erskine insists that he cannot run by himself because his pace ends up “insanely slow,” his teammates do poke fun at how “he is very good at zoning out and not paying attention,” often adding his two cents after the topic of discussion has shifted gears. One may ask how Erskine is able to balance, all these activities at an extraordinary level. In combination with what Buckley describes as a “highly regimented schedule,” Erskine does all his work in his room. Sitting in silence, with the blinds closed so as to eliminate any distractions, is the key to his success. “If you are trying to be efficient, don’t go somewhere to study where you are going to see other people,” Erskine said. Looking through life in terms of numbers, the walk from Jenkins to Frost, and back, may just be too long to calculate into his systematic itinerary.
You Can Fly!
Erskine has become a running champion over his time at Amherst, winning New England’s and qualifying for Nationals.
Fueled with an interest in math before entering Amherst College, Erskine’s first math course was Multivariable Calculus with Professor Benjamin Hutz. The professor’s
Photos courtesy of Andrew Erskine
Erskine’s greatest academic achievment was his thesis, which was almost halted by a counter-example to his proof. dog, Kaz, would sleep on the front desk. “Every time class would end,” Erskine said, “we would all pet him on the way out.” With advanced calculus as a stepping-stone, Erskine was drawn more to theoretical math. His favorite classes at Amherst have been Groups, Rings and Fields, Analysis and Topology. Erskine’s professors praise him for his efficiency as a grader and his relative ease in class. Professor Michael Ching first met Erskine as a grader for his Multivariable Calculus course. “He made my life, as a new faculty member just getting used to things at Amherst, a lot easier,” Ching said. In fact, Erskine’s grading received very few complaints from the students, as a result of his fairness. However, his greatest academic achievement and largest contribution to the Math Department has been his thesis. According to Ching, his thesis “gave a completely new definition of a property of graphs. It really is a very impressive and beautiful result that greatly improves on other published papers in this area.” His thesis stemmed from a 2010 paper his thesis advisor, Professor David Cox, proposed to him about the Binomial Edge Ideal. In an attempt to outline his thesis for me, Erskine pulled out a sheet of graph paper and pencil and began drawing and labeling various diagrams. “Think of a map, and the cities are the vertices and the roads are the edges,” Erskine explained. As he drew a diamond, he assigned a different number to each vertex, for the graph must be labeled in a particular fashion in order for it to be properly represented. Erskine’s thesis worked on defining what it means for a graph to be “closed.” His thesis outlines a third property—what he calls “narrow”— to the 2010 paper necessary for a graph to be “closed.” In January of 2012, Cox remembers, “he began to get the glimmers of what was going on…he actually had the proof and could make this thing fly.” However, this step was not
reached without a brief moment of panic. “While I’m trying to prove that if we have property A then property C holds,” Erskine recounted, “just when I think I almost have it—I come across an example of something that had property A but did not have property C, and even worse didn’t have property B.” At this point, Erskine became concerned about the direction his thesis was heading. “I had spent so long trying to prove this and was quite sure it would be the centerpiece of my thesis,” Erskine said. What made Erskine’s work spectacular, as Cox described, is that “a lot of people would have stopped at the counter-example, but Erskine took it one step further and realized that if he turned things around, then everything would work.” This became the “centerpiece” of his thesis. Erskine’s thesis was a fusion of both his computer science and math knowledge. “His computer science background became critical to coming up with an algorithm that would produce the labeling that had the ‘closed’ property if it had the three properties,” acknowledged Cox. Erskine’s thesis is clearly a culmination of what he has focused on at Amherst College.
The Circle of Life
Erskine will spend his summer in Amherst working on the publication of his senior thesis. Fortunately, this will allow him to dine at Val, having at least a handful more egg-sandwiches before he leaves the campus in the fall. Next year, Erskine will be working as a software engineer for TripAdvisor. Professor Cox acknowledges the amusing thing about his career choice. “The job will involve a map, and with that we get back to the cities as vertices and the roads as edges,” Cox said. It seems that Erskine will never be able to escape maps and graphs, for if it is not involved in his job, Erskine will still be hitting the roads and running in any city his future takes him.
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Senior Profile Larissa Davis
A Staunch Advocate for a Better Amherst College Davis harnessed her interests and passion to criticize and bring change to a stagnant institution. By Jake Walters ‘14 Many Amherst students use their four years entirely for personal development, paying little attention to how their time here affects Amherst or society at large. They see what Amherst can do for them but not what they can do for Amherst. Among her peers, Larissa Davis is probably one of the College’s most vocal critics. But above all, her acknowledgement that Amherst is often an imperfect place pushes her to do what many others do not: to put her community before herself and actively change the institutions around her. Many know Davis as an active voice in various facets of Amherst, both academic and social, but, unlike many students, Davis does not passively take part in existing Amherst social structures. She actively criticizes them and asks how they can be improved. Many students at Amherst see themselves as committed to institutional change in the big picture, but few marry their abstract commitment to real-world change. Davis has done exactly that in the place where she most immediately saw its necessity: at Amherst itself.
Drawn in by Diversity
Four years ago, Davis did not see herself as someone who was prepared to critique Amherst or society. She was originally drawn to Amherst because of what she perceived as a deep, institutional commitment to diversity that suited her own interests. The love of diverse experiences that fueled Davis’s willingness and drive to critique began before she came to Amherst, and it has a deep background in her experiences as a child. A military child, Davis was used to exploring diverse cultures and moving from place to place. “I was born in Washington State (South Kitsap stand up!), but moved to Taegu, South Korea when I was six, followed by Yokosuka, Japan when I was nine and finally Charleston, South Carolina when I was 16. In between those permanent moves I spent quite a lot of time in California and Louisiana,” she noted proudly. No doubt, these experiences of “bouncing from overseas base to overseas base,” as Davis put it, stoked a fire in her for new experiences and ultimately drove her to Amherst: a college
that seemed, at the time, to suit her commitment to and love for diverse experiences. Davis admitted that her interest in social justice was vague upon arriving at Amherst, and her desire to further explore different fields of reform eventually settled her on a path toward emphasizing education reform as the key mechanism of social equality in the U.S. Her favorite classes at Amherst, Race and Educational Opportunity with Professor Hilary Moss and Democracy and Education with Professor Barry O’ Connell, betray her interest in education. Davis’s desire for change extends beyond education, however, to broader economic and justice reform, likely along the lines of what she learned in her inside-outside class Historical Perspectives of the U.S. Economy and Criminal Justice, taught by Professor Martha Saxton. Her interest in history was sparked by an International Baccalaureate teacher in high school, and this, along with the classes she enrolled in at Amherst, prompted her to major in History. Always seeking new experiences, Davis paired this with an Asian Languages and Civilizations major, which allowed her to focus on classes in another world region to complement her mostly-U.S. focused history career. Above all, though, Amherst allowed Davis to more fully connect her love of history to modern social justice reform and to challenging institutional structures to create change, even if this meant serving as one of the most vocal critics of the College when it did not live up to its stated intentions. Davis soon discovered that she was not content to simply explore wider notions of reform in the classroom. Rather, she was also deeply committed to using what she learned to challenge the institutional structures of Amherst in a variety of ways. Starting her first year, Davis became involved in organizing Black Alumni Weekend and “breaking out of the Amherst bubble by going weekly to Dean Tech in Holyoke.” She was also a Peer Advocate for Sexual Respect. By her senior year though, Davis had taken on numerous other commitments, including serving on the Executive Board and being the Vice President of the Amherst Political Union.
Throughout her four years, Davis has become a critical voice on campus, dedicated to institutional change.
A Force for Change
In many ways, though, these experiences were not as fruitful to Davis as her more informal commitments: those which moved her outside of Amherst institutions and into the realm of grassroots organizing. As she noted, the “informal ‘activity’ that I have dedicated the most time to outside of the academics is organizing around the Multicultural Resource Center on campus. I have been involved to a lesser extent in organizing around sexual assault issues on campus but where I have been involved I have been fully committed.” As such, Davis is not afraid to provide harsh words for the College. “I find that Amherst has changed less than some of the people in it. The institutional structures, barriers, are still in place, however, a number of the students who have gone through it have changed internally,” she said. She said that in the end, “the students involved in organizing around sexual respect and the MRC are about making this institution better and rather than feigning that significant differences do not exist, which does nothing but oppress the non-dominant cultural and other aspects of the campus, to acknowledge the differences and learn how to recognize and work through them.” To this extent, Davis, clearly a proponent of grassroots efforts, engaged in protesting college policy throughout her senior year with the goal of making Amherst more conducive to learning and openly sharing diverse experiences. And she did acknowledge some positive change at Amherst. “For students now who are striving to change the institution, and actually make it a place where we turn our representative diversity into substantive diversity and hold each other accountable for perpetuating justice rather than elitism, the soil is more fertile for us to take root,” Davis said. Davis has in her years here been a powerful advocate for change and an advocate for broader notions of diversity that promote not only bringing students together physically, but also mentally and emotionally, as well as challenging dominant perspectives on society. “She is, without a doubt, a positive force for change at Amherst. Supersmart, dedicated and always well-prepared, [Davis] brought much needed clarity and insight to the work of the committee,” Professor Ronald Lembo said about working together on the committee to hire an interim director for the Multicultural Resource Center. “In the process, she helped to instill real meaning to the terms ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion,’ something which the College could use more of. No doubt, she will be missed.” Davis’s passion for change extends beyond Amherst, as reflected by her summer experiences. After her first year, she decided to focus on educational reform as her new passion and interned with the Mississippi Teacher Corps, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of education in some of the most disadvantaged schools in the country. This experience not only allotted her an opportunity to focus on the public good, but it was transformative as well. “I had a vague interest in racial
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Photos courtesy of Larissa Davis
Davis’s experience at and outside of Amherst have fueled her passion for social justice. and social justice, but by the end of the summer I was unequivocally committed to social justice through education,” she said. Davis made sure not to focus too narrowly on education, though, which is why after her sophomore year she decided to intern with the Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn from South Carolina’s sixth district on Capitol Hill, which bolstered her interest in politics and allowed her an opportunity to get an up-close picture of how the government functions and the obstacles which face those committed to change. After her third year at Amherst, she decided to focus more on her own research after having had experiences both in top-down and grassroots reform. She received a research grant for preparing for her senior thesis and served as a Montgomery Summer Research Fellow at the Amherst Bar Foundation. With these experiences, Davis decided to turn back to education for her senior year while working on her thesis. She looked into school integration in Charleston, S.C., ultimately hoping to explore the complicated and often contradictory means by which communities react to policy measures with respect to integration and education. Davis’s thesis is ultimately a critical one, and one which relates to not only Charleston, but also to smaller communities such as Amherst College and larger ones such as the entire United States.
Davis’s interest in diversity wasn’t merely academic, but hit much closer to home and extended into her personal life. While she said that Amherst has made her “more articulate, confident and critical,” she acknowledged that much of this was because of “microaggressions” she faced on campus, or non-physical aggressions between members of different races and cultures which pervade everyday society. “My friends who were ‘already there’ before me helped me to feel more confident and comfortable expressing views, often critical views, outside of just papers for classes or in small groups of people who already understood completely,” Davis said. Davis further stated that “the friends that I have made and who have supported me at this institution are the ones that I value the most.” While she matriculated to Amherst for its rich representative diversity on campus, she notes that “it has truly been (her) friends of color and other women on
campus” to whom she feels closest. Ultimately, this means that to Davis the College is failing to truly promote diversity in a way that crosses deeper, more ingrained mental and emotional borders. This is precisely why it is primarily those students who have experienced “micro-aggressions” first-hand with whom she “had countless hours of conversations with about difficult and triumphal experiences on campus and beyond, studied with, philosophized about life with, ate with, organized with, and affirmed the presence of others with.” For her friends, the feeling is mutual. Abigail Bereola ’15 heaped praise on Davis: “[Davis] is a powerhouse. She cares deeply about her friends and about issues on Amherst’s campus, working tirelessly for what she believes is just and against what she sees as unjust. Amherst will be worse off without her.” Davis shows no signs of ending her commitment to social justice, planning next year to begin a Coro Fellowship in Public Policy and Public Affairs. On leaving Amherst, Davis describes herself as “uncontrollably eager” to “get out of the residential campus bubble” and to “choose to live in a place where I cannot feign that poverty does not exist,” something Davis feels Amherst did not completely commit to. To her, it is grassroots social movements and policy work, as opposed to classroom learning, through which real change occurs, and she couldn’t be more excited to move in this direction. Davis’s future plans will push her further down the path of social change and remind her why so many found her a positive and integral force for change at Amherst. Davis was seldom content with merely taking classes here. She devoted her time to changing Amherst in numerous ways and explored social reform from many different angles. On change at Amherst, Davis is cautiously optimistic. “I hope the changes since I was a first-year student, particularly in the past year, are indicative of Amherst being on the cusp of actually starting to believe every life has a consequence,” Davis said. But at the same time, as many around her know, as long as there are people like Davis at Amherst and in the world, there will always be advocates who will stop at nothing to see that the change they desire is implemented in society and to make the world a place more dedicated to social justice.
Congratulations Billy Ford '13
May all your dreams come true Love, Granduncle Jim, Grandaunt Taifu, Chris and family
Congratulations Robbie! We are so proud of you! Love, Mom & Dad The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Senior Greetings Congratulations Leslie! Class of 2013
Pursue your Passion for Play!
With Love and admiration… You make your family very Proud!
XAVIER, MAY A THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE, AND WIDE-EYED WONDER, CONTINUE TO CHARACTERIZE YOU.
WITH LOVE, MacKENZIE, WESTBROOK, DADDY, AND MOTHER
Alyssa K. Donovan Bachelor of Arts, cum laude Geology Dearest Alyssa, When you came to Amherst College four years ago with the usual “I have no idea what my major is,” we guessed you might become a scholar of Asian Studies, or perhaps a historian, or a philosopher. After you completed your first semester class in Principles of Geology, you surprised us very much when you said “I can do this!” and declared yourself a geology major.
Dear Billy, Congratulations on graduating from Amherst! What an accomplishment! We are so proud of you and know that you will be a success in whatever you do. Best wishes and lots of love! Aunt Leigh, Uncle Kevin and Jenni
Nick Parada MINNESOTA + CHILE = 6 foot 2 red headed rugby playing Californian boy raised in the wild west of Tucson Arizona who can speak English, Japanese and Spanish while doing handstands. We’ve got your back! With love... Your family AND Abuelo, Abuela, Mane, Teresa, Andrea, Uncle Tan, Mary, Ann, Billy, Tony, & Sam.
THE AMHERST STUDENT: COMMENCEMENT EDITION MAY 24TH, 2013
In true liberal arts fashion, you took full advantage of the Open Curriculum to study what you wanted. Where else could you have used the geology you learned to show that lead pipe poisoning didn’t cause ancient Rome to fall? You enjoyed, as you put it, “hard core” field trips with your geology professors. You experienced, via your two fellowships, what it was like to be a research scientist. You hunted for contaminants in local fish, bought from fishermen during a fishing contest! You flew to Ireland to study historical metal deposition in Lough Carra, and brought back cores and a wool sweater! We hope that the friends you have made will continue to brighten your life. We hope the skills and knowledge you have learned will serve you well. We know that the future will be interesting times; and we so hope that you will succeed in handling the challenges that will face you and your generation. We are very proud of you! Congratulations on your graduation!
With love always, Mom & Dad
Senior Greetings Congratulations Sarah Christensen Christensen!!
Climb Every Mountain Aaron! A world of love from Beth and Mickey
Congratulations Robert. You are a true warrior. Quoting from an unknown source, “The future lies before you. I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known”. Love always - Mom & Dad.
From our “Baby Girl,” to our “Little Girl,” to our “College Graduate!” We are so proud of you. Continue to reach for the sky. Love, Mom and Dad
Nicolas Addison Parada Grandoff, looking down from heaven above, would like to say:
“Nick, I am so proud of you and am honored that my love of history and Asia helped inspire you. Remember to walk with a bounce in your step, a twinkle in your eye, a song on your lips and keep your family close to your heart.”
Congratulations Kokaale! Hold fast to dreams With love from your family
LLord ord JJeff eff sSSwim wim Seniors Seniors Congratulations Alex, Daniel, Jeff, and Will! Congratulations Alex, Daniel, Jeff and Will!
Thanks for four great years and for always being there for each other. Thanks for fWe our wish great years nd fthe or avery lways being here for Family each other. each of ayou best, ThetSchwab We wish each of you the very best, The Schwab Family
THE AMHERST STUDENT: COMMENCEMENT EDITION MAY 24TH, 2013
Senior Greetings Nicholas Parada The ginger is off and running!
BILLY FORD We are so proud of you! With love, Yan-fu, Charles and Michael Feng
So, after 4 glorious years at Amherst College, what’s it been worth? Getting a deg ree in Asian Culture and Language? a small fortune. Making friends that will last a lifetime? a million bucks.
Beating Williams in Rugby (over & over)? priceless!
Tom, Stephanie, John and Claire McCann
We love you Nick and couldn’t be prouder, Papa, Mama, Tato, Andy, Matias, Lila & Chula CONGRATULATIONS
WILL KITCHELL AND
Congratulations to Claudia and the entire class of 2013! We are so proud of you! What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Love, Mom, Pam and Nick, Grandma Sunny, Grandpa Lee and Grandma Frances, Aunt Jo and Uncle Bob, and Maxi
We are so proud! Congrats to you and your friends. Thanks, Amherst, for four special years. Love, Mom, Dad, Sondra ’00, Greg ‘99E, Josh, Dani and Elena
Nick, Congrats!!! Love you, Dad, Mom & Maria 18
Making us proud in the 2-0-6!
“Raise those hands, this is our party We came here to live life like nobody was watching I got my city right behind me.”
Congratulations, Anna Louise Hagstrom!! We are so proud of you. We are thankful for all you have learned and the wonderful ﬁends you have made at Amherst. Now it’s time to step out and change your little piece of the world. Love you! Mom, Dad, Peter, Nathan, & Reilly
We are so proud of all your achievements. We wish you all the best in the future and much happiness with whatever you do. We Love You, XOX
THE AMHERST STUDENT: COMMENCEMENT EDITION MAY 24TH, 2013
Congratulations Sarah! We are so proud of you. Love and hugs, Dad, Mom, Claire, and Emily
Senior Greetings Matthew J. Sponheimer Congratulations, Matt! You have always made your family so proud. We will always cherish your four years at Amherst!
Congratulations William E. Ford IV
Love, The Feng Family Earl, Alisa, Jakob and Chaya
Love, Dad, Mom, Brian, Carrie, Brendan, Kelly, Patrick, Charlie and Murphy
Dear Rebecca, Congratulations on your graduation. We are incredibly proud of you! You have worked so hard for all your accomplishments. You deserve nothing but the best. Cant wait to cuddle up with you on the couch in the basement. Love, Murphy and Maggie
CONGRATULATIONS BILLY! May the future bring you great success and abundant happiness! Sending all our love and best wishes, Aunt Sheila, Uncle Jeff, Nicole, Danielle, Juliette and Caroline AMHERST STUDENT: COMMENCEMENT EDITION MAY 24TH, 2013 19 THE
Year in Review Monthly Recap
The college’s handling of sexual assault cases sparked local and national controversy. Photo courtesy of Barry Scott
Keefe Campus Center was remodeled, most notably giving the Multicultural Resource Center and the Gender Center more prominent locations. Photo by Olivia Tarentino ’15
2012-2013: A Year of Conflict and Vigorous Discourse August
After another year with a record number of applications, the Class of 2016 arrived on campus on a clear summer day. With a record 8,565 applications, the College only accepted 1,100 students, resulting in an acceptance rate slightly under 13 percent. Transfer students faced an even lower acceptance rate of about ﬁve percent acceptance rate.
For over a hundred years the only known image of Emily Dickinson has been a daguerreotype taken when she was just 16. A new image, however, came to light in September. The new image, also a daguerreotype, depicts two women seated side-by-side and was found in 1995 by a private collector. In July 2007, the collector came forward to the Emily Dickinson Museum and Amherst College Archives and Special Collections for help in validating his theory. After making copies of the daguerreotype, the Museum and Archives experts got down to work, closely examining the photograph with a variety of tools, with encouraging results. Scheduled to start in October, the Pratt Field project to reconﬁgure and reorient the
track and football ﬁeld almost came to a halt when concerns were raised that the plan would require knocking down the Camperdown Elm — a historic and meaningful tree. After protests by many members of the community, the Senior Administration decided to take necessary steps to protect the tree, hiring the Barlett Tree Company to relocate the Camperdown Elm. With state-ofthe-art excavation equipment and a large crane, the tree will be taken to a different location. Former professor Carleen Basler resigned from the College after admitting that her written work contained unattributed verbatim quotations and improper references of other scholars’ work. The plagiarism in Basler’s work was discovered when she was being reviewed for tenure in the Anthropology and Sociology and the American Studies departments. As is common with any tenure review, the senior members of the departments were reviewing all of her written work. The plagiarism was found in material dating back to her dissertation.
On Oct. 17, The Student published an personal opinion article by former student Angie Epifano entitled “Account of Sexual Assault
at Amherst College” which described her experience with the administration and counseling center after being sexually assaulted in May 2011. The article shocked the campus and sparked a heated discussion about sexual respect. Students and other members of the College community attended vigils in support of survivors of sexual assault, debated the College’s policies on the treatment of sexual misconduct and consent and participated in rallies and meetings to build a movement for change. On November 2, classes were cancelled and the entire campus community met in LeFrak Gymnasium for a Day of Dialogue.
the snow on the roof of a car parked by the Lord Jeffery Inn. The car was parked on Spring Street on the north side of the street and was therefore not on college property. Because the incident occurred outside the jurisdiction of the campus police department, it was referred to the town of Amherst police. However, though the incident didn’t occur directly on campus, members of the College administration and students took it seriously. On Dec. 4, Biddy Martin sent out a schoolwide email addressing the incident and pledging to continue changing the culture of the College to make it a more inclusive environment.
Amherst College’s new Take Your Staff Out (TYSO) program was initiated. Similar to the Take Your Professor Out (TYPO) program, TYSO will allow students to go out to a meal with any member of Amherst’s faculty, from coaches to administrators to custodians. Every student is allotted $14 for his or her meal, which includes a tip. A student is currently allowed to go on one TYSO per semester, although this may be revised in upcoming years. On Dec. 2, the Amherst College police were notiﬁed that a racial slur had been written in
Keefe Campus Center underwent major renovations that have reconﬁgured the spaces within Keefe and refurbished nearly all the public spaces in the building. After weeks of debate regarding the future locations of the game room, it was moved to the second ﬂoor and into a space composed of two separate areas that previously belonged to The Amherst Student and WAMH. The second ﬂoor also now includes ofﬁces run by the counseling center that will provide in-house psychotherapy services. The Student Activities Ofﬁce was moved to the basement, and the Multicultural Resource Center took that space as
PHI BETA KAPPA MEMBERS These students represent the top 10 percent of their class Adaora Krisztina Achufusi Haneui Bae Zachary Isaac Bleemer Katherine Perry Blumstein Alex Paul Butensky Mia Lim Certo Elton H. Cho Sarah Ashley Christensen Terrence Robert Cullen II Andrew Philip Erskine James Wilson Fromson Devon Marie Geary Maxwell Warren Gilbert Anna Louise Hagstrom Winthrop Paul Harvey Dylan Alexander Maneker Herts
Zhuqing (Lester) Hu Emily Katherine Jackson Aubrey Laine Jones Amy Myong Kil Ko Keri Grace Lambert Eric Tobias Manolson Lax Steven Andrew Levy Natalie Elizabeth Lubsen Diana Jeanette Madden Joseph Michael Meyer Jeffrey Tyler Moro Mizuho Ota Alexander Henry Pearlman Shenglan Qiao
Luis Franz Rattenhuber Heather Lynn Richard Ian Frasier Rockwell Leslie Erin Roth Danielle Priscilla Santiago Ramos Jeremy Cohon Simon Madeline Rose Sprung-Keyser Lindsay O’Connor Stern Eric Paul Sullivan David Sze Joseph John Taff Nathan Hoover Thomas Ji An Wang Robert Henry Weaver Susan Virginia Scott Wheeler Yi’an Kaspar Zhou
Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honors organization. PBK is an acronym for the greek phrase “Philosophia Biou Kubernetes,” which translates to “the love of learning is the guide of life.”
THE AMHERST STUDENT: COMMENCEMENT EDITION MAY 24TH, 2013
Year in Review Monthly Recap its new ﬁrst ﬂoor location. The area that was previously the game room was split in two. The front section became the McCaffrey Room, which was a part of Keefe when it was built in 1987 and was there until in 2007. The back section became the Women’s Center and will include an ofﬁce for private conversations and future stafﬁng needs.
The Special Oversight Committee on Sexual Misconduct released a report to the College community analyzing the problem of sexual misconduct on campus and reviewing policies and procedures for handling cases of sexual misconduct. The report, titled Towards a Culture of Respect, concluded with a list of over 60 recommendations aimed at improving the College’s ability to prevent sexual violence and build a culture of respect on campus. President Martin formed the Oversight Committee this past October in response to public accounts of sexual assault at the College and pressure from students, faculty, staff and alumni. After months of talks with the administration, the Amherst College club soccer team ofﬁcially became recognized as an ofﬁcial club sports team during an Association of Amherst Students (AAS) meeting. The Senate allotted the team money from the AAS account despite a College policy that does not permit a club team to exist if it has a corresponding varsity team and allotted club soccer AAS money. In the future, the Athletics Department will clarify its jurisdiction over club sports.
After an overwhelmingly positive response to its two-week trial during the fall, Grab-NGo started as a permanent program. Running out of Schwemm’s Cafe, Grab-N-Go occurs daily from 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m., extending the lunch period option for students by half an hour, Monday through Friday during class and exam periods. The program accommodates student meal plans, point plans and cash transactions. Students must choose between Grab-N-Go and Valentine for lunch, and if they eat in one location they will not be able to eat in the other during the lunch period.
The dream of having a campus farm that produces vegetables for the dining hall became a reality. Amherst signed a deal leasing a plot of land to farmers Tobin Porter-Brown and Peter McLean in November and since then the newly dubbed Book & Plow Farm quickly developed and grew. The original intent behind the farm was for it to provide produce for Valentine Dining Hall, but under the guidance of the new farmers the end-goal has increased, extending to other Five College schools and their dining halls as well. The farmers are anticipating the construction of the farm’s ﬁrst greenhouse and washing station to be completed in May, and they have already started working on the ﬁelds.
Schwemm’s Coffee House hosted a oneday trial in which it served alcohol from 8 p.m. until 12 a.m. to students who are of drinking age. Schwemm’s was granted a one-day liquor license for the event. The effort was spearheaded by the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) President Tania Dias ’13 and other AAS senators. Organizers hope that the event can become a weekly Thursday night event.
The faculty met to discuss the motion to join the edX and begin creating MOOCs. The faculty voted against joining edX, instead approving a motion to have the College pursue its own initiatives to move more class material and classes online and to create ways to incorporate technology in the classroom. Following the vote, President Martin stated that the College would not sit by and do nothing when it comes to online education and improving technology in the classroom and that many faculty members want to do more and should be able to do more when it comes to experimenting with online learning and technology.
In order to help alleviate housing pressures created by the ongoing construction of and give students more ﬂexible housing options, the College offered up to 60 members of the Class of 2014 in good academic and disciplinary standing off-campus housing at the Alpine Commons apartment complex on Belchertown Road.
On Friday, April 19, over 100 students, faculty and administration members gathered together on the First-Year Quad to show solidarity with the city of Boston and the victims of recent tragedies. Students held up signs saying “Stay Strong, Boston!” and a photo of the event was taken and publicized to show support for the
city. In addition, donations were collected for One Fund Boston, a charity created by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino to provide help for those who were most affected by the events. This event came at the end of a very difﬁcult and scary week for Boston. On Monday April 15 at 2:49 p.m. two bombs exploded near the ﬁnish line of the Boston marathon, killing three and injuring 282 other people. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis headlined Spring Concert on April 27. Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, is a rapper and musician who has risen to stardom recently with his successful debut full-length studio album, “The Heist,” which reached the No. 1 position on the U.S. iTunes Albums chart within hours of its October 2012 release. Known for his No. 1 hit “Thrift Shop,” Macklemore has been independently releasing music since 2000 and now collaborates with producer Ryan Lewis. The opening act was Sol Moravia-Rosenberg, known simply as Sol, who is a northwest hip-hop artist based in Seattle Washington whose second album “Yours Truly,” released January 2012, rose to No. 1 on iTunes U.S. Hip Hop Charts.
President Martin announced plans to turn the Power House, a brick building on the College’s southeast side that once provided power to the campus, into a space on campus for student activities. Administrators hope that the renovated facility will provide an idea space for different events. The building will also serve as
an informal gathering space, that will be outﬁtted with furniture and equipment that will allow and encourage students to use it throughout the day even when there are no scheduled events. The Orientation Committee, which consists of students, faculty and administration, determined that student Orientation leaders (squad leaders, CEOT leaders and FOOT leaders) will have to sign a contract with a clause that stipulates that they must refrain from the use of alcohol and drugs during the orientation period, according to Interim Dean of Student Conduct Susie Mitton Shannon. It has not been determined that other students on campus during Orientation will have to sign a similar agreement. President Biddy Martin announced that the administration and Board of Trustees had decided to halt the College’s current science center construction and move it from the anticipated Merrill site to an alternative location. The decision was reached following extensive debate after Facilities staff announced to her that there was an accumulation of issues with the plans and recommended not going forward with it. The College halted all construction and is currently looking at alternative sites that would cause less disruption and be less expensive. There are still a lot of studies to be done and it will take at least two years before construction begins. The administration will immediately begin improving Merrill now that the scientists will not be moving for a few more years.
Students show their sympathy towards Boston. Photo courtesy of Elodie Reed ’13
The Book & Plow farm will provide food to the Five Colleges.
Photo courtesy of The Book & Plow Farm
Best of the Campus Crime Log
May 22, 2012 1:37 a.m., Observatory A caller reported what sounded like someone screaming behind the building. Ofﬁcers determined it was an animal. Nov. 9, 2012 10:50 p.m., Hitchcock Dormitory While at TAP, an ofﬁcer conﬁscated a Williams College football helmet from a woman. Nov. 18, 2012 7:16 p.m., South Dormitory A resident reported an unfamiliar male was in her dorm and approached her asking if she wanted some candy. The responding ofﬁcers were able to identify the man as another student.
Dec. 2, 2012 3:00 a.m. Charles Drew House An ofﬁcer received a report of two acts of vandalism at the Charles Drew House. It was reported that on Oct. 20, 2012, exterior windows at the Charles Drew House were “egged.” Early in the morning of Dec. 2, someone entered the house and dumped the contents of wastebaskets over the hallways. The area was cleaned up by custodial personnel prior to the incident being re-
ported. An ofﬁcer documented the reports, which were forwarded to the Dean’s Ofﬁce. The investigation remains open.
Feb. 28, 2013 3:17 p.m., Keefe Health Center An employee reported that a man entered the Health Center claiming to be updating the ﬂoor plans. He then left. A check with Facilities found that no one was assigned to do that. Case open. March 2, 2013 6:39 a.m., Moore Dormitory A caller reported a white powder on the ﬂoor outside his room. Upon arrival, ofﬁcers found the substance, which was determined to be laundry detergent, in the hall near several rooms. The custodial department was notiﬁed. March 3, 2013 2:25 a.m., Lipton House An ofﬁcer responded to a report of a man banging on an exterior door and found that it was the DJ from an event who was locked out. March 8, 2013 1:56 p.m., Crossett Dormitory Residents of a ﬁrst-ﬂoor suite report-
ed the doors to their suite were obstructed by someone who tied them off with electrical cord. An ofﬁcer spoke to a room group who may have been responsible. Case open.
March 9, 2013 1:31 a.m., Valentine Dining Hall An ofﬁcer investigated some writing done in red lipstick on the building. Case open. March 10, 2013 1:41 p.m., Moore Ofﬁcers responded to a complaint about a foul odor on the third ﬂoor and located a jacket in a closet that was covered with vomit. It was removed from the building.
March 27, 2013 10:51 a.m., Off-Campus Locations An administrative ofﬁce reported a student was involved in an internet scam. The matter is under investigation. March 31, 2013 8:18 a.m., Pond Dormitory Ofﬁcers responded to an animal complaint and removed a bird from a room. 4:49 p.m., Taplin House While at a second-ﬂoor suite, an ofﬁcer discovered a sign belonging to a local business. It was conﬁscated.
March 12, 2013 10:30 a.m., Temporary Parking Lot An ofﬁcer on patrol discovered a car covered with saran wrap. The owner was notiﬁed. There was no damage.
April 5, 2013 4:20 p.m., Frost Library Ofﬁcers responded to a report of a man outside the building who was acting in an unusual manner. Ofﬁcers located the man, who is not a student, and after speaking with him found that no further action was necessary.
March 15, 2013 6:59 p.m., Valentine Dining Hall An ofﬁcer responded to a complaint of a man jumping off the front steps of a building with a skateboard. No one was found when an ofﬁcer checked.
April 13, 2013 1:27 a.m., Hitchcock House An ofﬁcer investigated a smoke detector sounding in a second-ﬂoor room and found it activated when marijuana was smoked in the room and candles were used. The resident
was ﬁned $100 for a smoking violation and $100 for creating an endangering condition by using candles. April 22, 2013 1:10 a.m., King Dormitory An ofﬁcer discovered a rabbit being kept in a basement room. The Environmental Health & Safety Ofﬁce and the Dean’s Ofﬁce were notiﬁed. April 14, 2013 1:54 a.m., Crossett A caller reported there was a woman in a third-ﬂoor suite who refused to leave. Upon the ofﬁcer’s arrival, the woman was identiﬁed as the sister of a student. Her brother was contacted, and she left with him. May 4, 2013 12:28 a.m., Mayo-Smith House While responding to a noise complaint, an ofﬁcer saw a naked male going up the stairs. He could not be located. May 4, 2013 4:30 a.m., Amherst College Police An ofﬁcer encountered a student who had four driver’s licenses in his possession. The suspect licenses were conﬁscated and the Registry of Motor Vehicles was notiﬁed.
MAY 24TH, 2013 THE AMHERST STUDENT: COMMENCEMENT EDITION
Senior Profile Tania de Sousa Dias
A President’s Quest for an Inclusive Community Dias guided Amherst through a turbulent year and confronted the difficult questions facing our school. By Noah Gordon ‘14 It’s been a hard year for Amherst. That seems to be the general consensus among students, faculty and staff as we bring the 2012-2013 academic year to a close. In fact, it seems to be the only thing we can all agree on: that the events of the past year have shaken our community in ways that few could have anticipated. Early in the year we were torn apart by a debate about the new location for the Multicultural Resource Center. In October we were brought back together in anger and remorse, when a brave former student published her harrowing account of sexual assault and our own college’s negligence in helping her. For a time it felt as if we were united, but it did not take long for us to get back to squabbling with one another on the Internet. At any rate, we were talking more. Tania de Sousa Dias, as our student body president, was responsible for relaying student sentiment to the administration and advocating on our behalf. Going into my interview with Dias, I wanted to identify a theme for the year. I settled on “change.” It incorporated the changes already being made — to the MRC, to our sexual respect policies, to the College’s high-level staff — and also touched on the changes we hope to see moving forward. I asked her what changes she hoped the College would continue to make. “I don’t think the theme has been change,” she told me. Turning my question on its head, she continued: “The theme has been, more than ever, community.”
Strengthening Amherst’s community was the goal that motivated Dias to run for the presidency in the first place. “I thought I could bring different parts of campus together because I’m friends with very different groups of students,” she said. “I thought that I could bridge that.” Her candidacy was a surprise, and her campaign was started well after those of the other two candidates. Nonetheless, in the initial election she came through with near-
ly 50 percent of the vote. The actual result of the election was protracted by a scandal, but Dias eventually emerged victorious. “I was exhausted,” she told me. “I don’t think I popped a bottle of champagne or anything.” Dias spent the summer planning for her presidency, talking to administrators and past presidents, and making a checklist of priorities and goals. But as she discovered early on, the priorities of the student body would come to her. “I had all these perceptions of what it means to be president,” she said, “but you can’t actually study how to be president.” For each issue that came to her, Dias adopted a strategy of trying to get as many interested students as possible involved. “It felt to me,” Dean of Students Charri Boykin-East said, “that she was always trying to collaborate with all the constituents, in particular really checking in with students, and my impression was that she really had a good idea of what students were thinking, feeling and believing.” In her meetings with Dean Boykin-East, she pressed for open lines of communication between the administration and the student body. “She kept giving examples of how we needed to have open meetings, open conversations, more transparency, more students involved in the conversations,” Dean Boykin-East said. The need for clear communication was paramount, and Dias pressed on this. During the deliberations to move the MRC, she pushed for the relevant administrators to hold an all-student meeting and met with many frustrated students herself. When students felt that enforcement of the alcohol policy had been tightened, Dias impressed the need to talk and act upon the administration. “I kept saying there’s not been a crackdown,” Dean Boykin-East said. “And she was really clear about saying that the perception is there, and that’s just as bad.” Dias is proud of her tenure as
As student body president, Dias made it her priority to reach out to underrepresented members of our community.
president, but acknowledges some of her mistakes. On the MRC issue, for example, she felt her approach wasn’t ideal. “I hadn’t learned, back then, how to handle the AAS [Senate] very well,” she said. She came to understand that she would need to work more cooperatively with the members of the Senate, who also were elected to represent the student body. Nonetheless, Dias advised future presidents to remember at all times the students whose voices aren’t represented by our student government. “At the end of the day, it’s not about our student government. It’s about our students,” she said. “And I think that’s more important than ever.”
A Change of Course
Dias arrived at Amherst as a premed student. She intended to graduate with the pre-med requisites and go on to become a doctor. She remained on-track to do so her junior year. “I did all the requisites except for one,” she said. “But I realized that what I really was passionate about was Black Studies.” This sort of sudden shift in academic interest somewhat typifies Amherst. Often, it only takes one extraordinary class to shift one’s interest and instill a new passion in them. For Dias, that class was Critical Debates in Black Studies, taught by Professor J. Celso Castro Alves. Only a sophomore at the time, Dias was somewhat awed by the seniors in the class but fascinated by the debates that took place. “I was so quiet, I hardly had anything to say, and I was so in awe that people could speak so articulately,” she said. “He’s really become my mentor,” Dias said of Professor Castro Alves. The professor, too, saw something special in Dias. “She became the head of a major collective body on this campus with a full commitment to representing the interests of students,” Castro Alves said. This commitment required some sacrifice of her thesis work, but only minimally impacted its quality. Dias chose to write her Black Studies thesis on a topic personally relevant to her: the experiences of white Portuguese born in colonial Angola, which remained a Portuguese colony until 1974. Dias herself is Portuguese, and her father was a member of this Angola-born generation. “They spent their childhoods in Angola and had never met or interacted with Portugal in any tangible way,” she said. After Angola achieved independence in 1975, these Angola-born Portuguese returned to Portugal, a homeland they had never truly known. Dias’s thesis project explored the meaning of this return and its implications for the meaning of one’s national identity. “Through interviews and the close reading of memoirs, Tania revisited the life trajectories of displaced men and women in order to write an original senior thesis,” Professor Castro Alves said.
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Photos courtesy of Tania Dias
In her senior year, Dias deftly balanced work on her senior thesis with the demands of student leadership. Writing a thesis is never easy, especially when your thesis tackles complex concepts like race, identity and nationality. Dias found it difficult and intellectually stimulating to challenge her own racial assumptions and perceptions. Yet the hardest challenge Dias faced was understanding her own argument and fine-tuning each chapter of her thesis to support it. “It’s like a huge puzzle — that’s how I see it,” she said. “Each chapter is like a puzzle, and they all end up fitting together into one cohesive thesis.”
Genuine and Kind
Balancing the demanding job of student body president with all the challenges of writing a senior thesis was tough for Dias. Even tougher was maintaining some semblance of a social life during her senior year. Ultimately, the lines between political and personal life were blurred for Dias. After all, meeting and talking with students has been her favorite part of the job. She recalled that often people she’d never met would sit down and talk with her in Valentine; she relished these moments, because they helped her get in touch with previously-unheard pockets of Amherst. No doubt, these sorts of interactions were facilitated by Dias’s easygoing nature. “She’s a very genuine person, and she’s also very open,” Maya Sisneros ’13, a friend of Dias’s, said, “so it’s easy to meet her and connect with her.” “Genuine” was a word that cropped up again and again in discussions of Dias; another was “approachable.” “She just seems like a very anchored woman, a good person to get to know, who’s excited to meet the people on this campus,” Sisneros said. Dias’s presidential style was influenced by her personality; she was a master of people’s diplomacy, not politics. She was eager to talk with students individually and listen to their concerns. This capacity to lis-
ten extended to her interactions with administrators as well. “My very first impression of her was that she was kind, and that she listened, and that she didn’t prejudge,” Dean Boykin-East said. She was also unafraid to challenge administrators when their interests weren’t aligned with those of the students. Dean Boykin-East continued later in our conversation: “I don’t think that she was ever conflicted about representing the students. Ever.”
A Year for Community
Dias’s most-cherished moments from her time here were the moments in which the existence of an Amherst community was most salient. The aftermath of 2011’s “Snowpocalypse” and the 2012 Day of Dialogue stand out to her as high points in her Amherst career. For Dias, community has been the defining theme of the past year and of her presidency. “I think community has become the objective, the big goal that we all want,” she said. “I think that, more than ever, we’ve tapped into the voices that aren’t heard, the voices that are there but just aren’t heard or aren’t given a chance to speak. “ Dias will soon leave Amherst, and she’s not sure where she’s going next. No matter where she ends up, I’m sure that the theme of community will follow her. She plans to do something involving migration and one’s sense of belonging to a new place. One might say we all migrated to Amherst from very different places, and we all feel differently about how we fit into this hodgepodge of a community. I have no doubt that her experiences at Amherst will influence her future direction. I also have no doubt that she’s left a legacy at Amherst that won’t soon be forgotten: the past year has been one in which many changes were made that will foster an inclusive community in the future. I know that Dias’s work will bring the same sorts of changes in whichever community she moves to next.
Senior Profile Zach Bleemer
Three Majors, Two Theses, One Bleemer Zach Bleemer has taken Amherst’s open curriculum by storm, redefining interdisciplinary scholarship.
guage in philosophy papers and that is really bad. Economics is bad philosophy, and philosophy is bad economics,” Bleemer commented.
By James Liu ’16
During the summer of his junior year, Bleemer worked as an intern at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, producing economic research. The Fed maintains a Research and Statistics Group to analyze the state of the American economy, half focusing on finance and the other half of economics (consumer debt, unemployment, etc.). Bleemer gravitated toward the economics branch. “I worry that finance only depends on the whims of large investors and not on anything actually in the real world, whereas economists are looking at real people and how they act,” Bleemer said. Moreover, a seven-hour workday allowed him the leisure to enjoy the city and pursue his other interests. As a research analyst, Bleemer worked on a consumer debt project, managing a dataset containing 42 million Americans’ credit reports for every quarter since 1999. From the data, he analyzed and predicted mortgage and credit card applications and originations throughout the Great Recession. Bleemer wrote the first of his two theses in economics. He analyzed the effectiveness of certain provisions of 2009’s Stimulus Package that incentivized states to modernize their unemployment insurance systems. “What really sets it apart as an economics thesis is the quality of the empirical work, which is very difficult empirical work and requires a large amount of data collection and very sophisticated econometric techniques,” said Professor Walter Nicholson, who advised Bleemer in the fall semester. Bleemer attacked these problems with passion and produced an impressive piece of work, which according to Professor Nicholson “will have effects well beyond his college thesis.” Bleemer’s economics thesis was awarded the James R. Nelson Prize for a distinguished thesis on public policy.
Time may pass differently for Zach Bleemer. After four short years Bleemer will graduate having completed three majors and written two theses. Bleemer’s breadth of knowledge is only surpassed by its depth; he was commended with a senior award for both his economics and philosophy theses. He pursues every endeavor with an unmatched enthusiasm, and it is fortunate that after individually accomplishing so much, Bleemer aspires to impart his knowledge to and develop the talents of others.
Finding the Ivory Tower
Born in Summit, NJ, Bleemer soon moved to and grew up in West Chester, Penn., a farming community outside of Philadelphia. An avid reader, Bleemer quickly developed an active interest in how and why people make the decisions they do. He knew from a young age that he wanted to become a teacher and recalls fondly the memory of, at the age of five, hunching over an iron stove and scribbling notes in an attempt to teach his then-three-year old brother arithmetic. Though his younger brother surpassed him in arithmetic long ago, his resolve to teach and mentor others has only grown stronger with age. Bleemer was fortunate to have attended a high school at which the rules were malleable for highachieving students, and he was trusted with the freedom to pursue his academic interests in his own manner. Self-motivated and focused, Bleemer created his own education by generating and completing courses of study in game theory, symbolic logic, the philosophy of death and other subjects beyond those typically offered. He then offered the fruits of that education to his peers, through both hundreds of hours of tutoring (largely volunteer) and teaching sections of his Chemistry and Economics
classes at the invitation of his teachers. He spent summers hiking and rafting through the West Coast and Alaska, exploring the world’s exterior in parallel with the interior presented in his reading. Bleemer considers a talk given by former President Tony Marx in Johnson Chapel as the moment when he decided which college to attend. He was struck when Marx called Amherst the ivory tower, which is typically used pejoratively. “Amherst saw itself as a bubble, or tower, outside of the rest of the world from which you could see everything else and evaluate it,” Bleemer recalled. “It sounded to me like a terrible lifestyle — but just the kind of thing I wanted for four years.” After receiving a Schupf scholarship from the College, which provides funding for summer and winter research, the deal was sealed. Bleemer came to the College with many questions. “I wasn’t as interested in learning the answers as learning a way to think about the questions,” Bleemer said. He chose three fields he thought would complement each other in their disparate approaches to understanding how the world works: economics, philosophy and mathematics. Bleemer managed to accomplish as much as he did through tremendous confidence, focus and hard work. In order to pursue three majors, he took five or six classes every available semester. In order to write two theses, Roger Creel ’13 recalls, Bleemer declared that he had to write two pages every day, and he did; when asked if he ever came to the end of days feeling as if he had failed, Bleemer’s response was a succinct no. Naturally, however, difficulties arose from trying to separate so many frames of approaching questions. “You start using economic lan-
Bleemer completed two theses this year, one in Philosophy and the other in Economics. Both were awarded prizes.
Throughout his study of economics, however, Bleemer maintained a concern about the underlying utility maximization model of economics because he did not feel his behavior was at all motivated with a utility calculation. Beauty, he thinks, might be one example of a quality that people actively seek out for reasons fundamentally distinct from the resulting pleasure-feeling; people value beautiful objects differently from any other kind of objects. As Bleemer stated, “Beauty is a challenge to the utilitarian framework.” Initially motivated by this critique of the hedonistic basis of economic theory, Bleemer would extensively explore the experience of the beautiful. As a Schupf Scholar, Bleemer visited Europe and South America, reaching a total of 21 countries. Bleemer spent his days at art museums,
Photos courtesy of Zach Bleemer
Upon graduating, Bleemer will work as a research analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. religious sites and parks, studying both the experience of beauty itself and the ways in which art suggests changes in aesthetic beliefs and the function of art over time. By learning art history the way it ought to be learned — i.e., by going out and experiencing a lot of art — Bleemer was able to match the historical developed of art with those of literature and philosophical aesthetics, spurring and eventually developing an understanding of the progression of aesthetic belief. Bleemer wrote the second of his two theses in philosophy, an interpretation of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment, which outlines Kant’s aesthetic theory. Kant describes the experience of beauty as the “harmony of the faculties of the imagination and understanding.” Nonetheless, Bleemer attempted a translation (of sorts) from Kant’s language to our own, demonstrating the (sometimes-obscure) validity and accuracy of Kant’s account of the beautiful. “Kant thinks that in the experience of a beautiful object the faculties of the mind interact in such a way that normal human rational experience is interrupted, and in what you might call a pleasurable way... But this takes about 50 pages to explain,” Bleemer explained. Bleemer’s philosophy thesis was awarded the Gail Kennedy Memorial Award for a distinguished thesis in philosophy; his work was also awarded the German Consulate General Prize by the German department. In the coming years, Bleemer will face a significant challenge: to wed his philosophical interests with his statistical and mathematical proficiencies. “I have this worry, shared by many people in the humanities, that statistics is a useful but disregarded tool for qualifying and stating true claims, and few humanists pay statistics any mind,” he commented. While the idea of combining humanities with mathematics may seem strange, Bleemer has already demonstrated how feasible and valuable it can be. In the winter of
his junior year, he went to the Folger Shakespeare Library, as a Folger Shakespeare fellow, and built a spreadsheet of editions of Hamlet published in Germany and the United Kingdom between 1760 and 1840. He used the data to compare the work of the British philosopher David Hume and the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who fiercely disagreed about the nature of beauty. Last year, as a Mellon Student Research Fellow, Bleemer statistically modeled how the 17th century translators of the King James Bible determined which of five aesthetics terms were used in translating the Hebrew term for beauty, attempting to explain how the translators used these words and examine the changes in commonplace aesthetic beliefs over time.
After graduating, Bleemer will return to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for some final statistical training, which he intends to follow by entering a graduate program in philosophy (or an interdisciplinary field more amenable to statistics). Bleemer today shares the same aspirations as he did as a five-yearold teaching his little brother arithmetic, and ultimately hopes to be a college professor. His expansive education at Amherst has helped define that ambition. Up to this point, Bleemer has managed to resist being restricted by the bounds of any single academic field, and he hopes to continue avoiding such fetters in the coming years, producing rigorous interdisciplinary scholarship even while developing the specialization required of any doctoral candidate or academic. While Bleemer may be leaving (what he has not taken from) Amherst next year, he may not be gone for long. “Amherst is exactly the place I have wanted to be for my undergraduate experience, and it is exactly the place that I would look to find the undergraduates that I would like to mentor as I move forward.”
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Senior Profile Deidre Nelms
Philosopher, Environmentalist Cultivates Questions Quirky and brilliant, this avid reader quickly turned her innovative convictions into thoughtful action. By Peter Suechting ’15 I ﬁrst met Deidre Nelms when I joined the Green Amherst Project (GAP) and its coal divestment campaign. Every time I ran into her outside of GAP, she was partially hidden behind massive stacks of philosophy books and mounds of paper. This is probably a good representation of Nelms; a passionate environmental activist, a farmer and a brilliant philosopher. As her friend Sam Slaby ’13 describes her, “[s]he is an odd mix, interested in growing vegetables, but also a major brainiac.” Whether a farmer-philosopher, or a philosopherfarmer, Nelms is an intriguing combination.
Thoughts on Thinking
Nelms manages to break the mold even within the seemingly disparate identities of philosopher and environmentalist. Rather than pursuing the normal philosophy major, for instance, Nelms created her own interdisciplinary major — what she calls “comparative philosophy.” Though philosophy at its heart, comparative philosophy pulls in the perspectives of other ﬁelds. The writing style is different as well, bringing in a more literary approach. “A lot of traditional philosophy is about what we know, and how that knowledge is justiﬁed,” Nelms said. “But I was less concerned by those questions. I wanted to know what we were doing by asking those questions.” For her thesis, Nelms explored the idea that the Tractatus, a philosophical text written by Ludwig Wittgenstein,
when, “Deidre said with passion that she thought Heidegger’s ‘Being and Time,’ not a work that has warmed many hearts I think, was a ‘beautiful’ book. That stunned me, but she said it with such conviction that it almost made me want to pick it up.” Nelms essentially understood philosophy as a performance of intellectual skill, an intriguing and unusual approach to the ﬁeld. “While of course she wanted it to turn out well,” said Professor George, “the ﬁnished product interested her less, I think, than what she would learn — about her subject, about intellectual exploration, about herself — in the course of the struggle. I admired that greatly.”
Though difﬁcult to uncover, the link between environmentalism and philosophy in Nelms’s life is strong. “Philosophy has made me more willing to engage and question performative contradictions,” Nelms said. “Activists have to be willing to pursue these contradictions and realize themselves in them. This is what the coal divestment campaign is all about. Amherst’s growing wealth as an institution has enabled me to study and thrive over the past four years as the beneﬁciary of ﬁnancial aid. However, Amherst’s wealth is a partial product of its heavy investment in the fossil fuel industry, which proﬁts by violently exploiting the earth and harming underrepresented communities. As students,
A native of Boise, Idaho, Nelms was active in the outdoors as a child and said her upbringing influenced her significantly. was a tragic text, suffering from some type of internal failure. “Wittgenstein attempts to draw a limit between the thinkable, the sayable and the unthinkable, the unsayable,” Nelms explained. “However, he cannot draw this limit without transgressing it himself. The text ends by declaring all of its own insights to be unthinkable and all of its own sentences to be nonsense. I wanted to spend the year considering what this performative contradiction means … I experimented with the idea that the Tractatus is a tragic text, which demands a decision of its readers: does philosophy exist to secure thought from failure, or is failure intrinsic to the practice of philosophy itself, as groundless questioning?” One of her advisors on this interesting mission, philosophy Professor Alexander George, recalled a time
we have to make an imperfect decision regarding this contradiction.” Nelms’s passion for the environment has been a continuous theme throughout her life. In Boise, Idaho, where Nelms grew up, she loved to spend time outdoors. Kayaking, back-packing and generally “traipsing around the mountains a lot,” were some of her activities of choice. When Nelms got to Amherst she met Slaby at the Freshmen Assembly, when he introduced himself to “the ﬁrst person I saw in tie-dye.” Nelms and Slaby subsequently became the only two members of the Amherst Garden Club. The two would constantly dig around in the backyard of the Zü, building things and growing vegetables. “It was more of a hobby than anything else, really,” Nelms said.
“She is not afraid of big tasks, though,” Slaby said. “We built a green house, and neither of us knew how to do it, but we did it. It was an A-frame, and when we ﬁnished we discovered we had put the door on sideways. In the end, we just left it as it was.” After her ﬁrst year, Nelms worked on a CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) a non-proﬁt which serves as a supporting network for local farmers in the Pioneer Valley. The work gave her the opportunity to meet with a lot of local Massachusetts farmers, peaking her interest in sustainability and farming. The summer after sophomore year Nelms worked in France on a couple of different organic farms through the World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program. As a place to stay, she lived with a collective of French artists, who called themselves “L’Escargot Migrateur.” In exchange for room and board, she helped them transform a dilapidated stone farmhouse by remodeling it with all natural building materials, such as mud and straw. These experiences served to strengthen Nelms’s passion for farming and the outdoors.
Photos courtesy of Deidre Nelms
Nelms’ philosophy thesis drew on her penchant for metacognition and her desire for original textual interpretation. could have played it safe in many different ways, but instead she chose to dedicate her last year of study to a super-ambitious thesis whose subject truly consumed her in the best sense of the word.” This all-consuming passion, in all
island off the coast of Maine. “I’m wary of having a career track. I want to take some time and explore,” Nelms said. “Read, experiment with other types of writing, have some unstructured time, possibly apply for some Ph.D. philosophy programs.”
Since her ﬁrst year, Nelms has also been loosely involved with the Green Amherst Project. Her serious involvement, though, only really began after her junior summer, when she interned with the Responsible Endowment Coalition (REC). At the REC, Nelms learned how truly enormous a college’s endowment really is, and what types of things could be accomplished with that type of money. But in order to mobilize that power, Nelms needed a cause. “Amherst didn’t seem like the kind of environment that supported student activism,” Nelms said. “But in reality, we just didn’t have the energy or the cause yet. I wanted to give them that cause and energy.” To that end, Nelms began looking into the divestment movement, sensing that it could be a movement to bring to Amherst. When she came back for her senior year, she brought the divestment idea to the GAP. Since then, Amherst has hosted renowned environmental activist Bill McKibben, rallied around divestment, passed a student referendum on divestment with 88 percent approval, the student senate has passed a resolution supporting divestment and the Green Amherst Project plans to meet with the Board of Trustees concerning divestment during their May meeting. This semester, the divestment campaign has developed a number of wonderful underclassmen leaders, who will be continuing to push forward next year. All in all, Nelms leaves behind a powerful legacy of environmental activism at Amherst. “Deidre is very serious academically, and very internally motivated,” Slaby said. “She made her own major because the philosophy department wasn’t what she wanted it to be. She wrote a thesis that consumed her life.” Professor George echoed Sam’s sentiments. “Deidre realizes what few students do, that her four years at Amherst are the time to go out on a limb and fearlessly follow one’s intellectual passions,” Professor George said. “She
THE AMHERST STUDENT: COMMENCEMENT EDITION MAY 24TH, 2013
A passionate environmentalist, Nelms spent her summers working with different nonprofit organizations before becoming involved with Amherst’s coal divestment movement. aspects of her life, is really what makes Nelms remarkable. It is the reason she has found so much success academically, in her activism and in the friendships that she has made here at Amherst. Beyond Amherst, Nelms has no concrete plans besides a summer working as a farmer’s apprentice on an
Though she has no designs on the future, Nelms’s brilliance and motivation will surely carry her far. Plan to start looking for vegetables that Nelms has grown in the supermarket very soon. They will be the ones with the label that says, “Thoughtfully Produced” and will carry their own original philosophical treatises as added bonuses.
Congratulations Brendan, What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul. You've made your mark an educated one. Love, Mom, Dad, Irene and Aubrey
Senior Profile Matt Fernald
Music Enthusiast Ends Amherst Career on Perfect Note A funny, easygoing presence, this singer and composer also has plenty of talent to go around. By Christian Aviles ’14
Matt Fernald spent his time at Amherst exploring different academic fields, falling in love and communicating in the language of music. People who know Fernald usually describe him as generous, humorous and humble. A talented musician with a great tenor voice, Fernald participated in many senior thesis performances during his time at Amherst and was a member of the highly entertaining a cappella group, The Zumbyes. The New Hampshire native is the third in his family to come to Amherst, but that didn’t take away from the unique aspects of his experience.
Finding a Path
After graduating from high school, Fernald took a gap year in which he undertook several jobs to gain some work experience. He worked in the food service industry in New Hampshire, but decided to move to Maryland to try to land a congressional internship. Although that didn’t quite work out, Fernald landed a job coaching tennis in Ecuador. In addition to his coaching job, Fernald volunteered at daycare center that provided low-income children with breakfast, lunch and a place where they could play around and learn at the same time. “I had a lot of fun in Ecuador. Besides traveling and practicing Spanish, my job at the tennis club and the one at the daycare center gave me the opportunity to see two different worlds: one with people with vast amount of resources and one for kids who didn’t really have much,” Fernald said. “It was a great experience.” Upon returning to the U.S., Fernald worked at Disney World for six months. Looking back on it, Fernald said he loved working at Disney because like Amherst, it prides itself on being a diverse environment. Af-
ter having worked a wide array of jobs, Fernald said his gap year was a wonderful decision. “It made me happier in myself and who I am,” Fernald said. “I’m definitely a more confident person because of it. I think it really changed what my Amherst experience would have been like had I come here straight after high school.”
Coming to Amherst
After working in so many places and meeting so many people, Fernald felt great about his transition to Amherst. He lived in the second floor of North his first year and remembers that his Resident Counselor Ryan Milov ’10, would always spark philosophical discussions with his residents. “He would sit us down in the common room and ask us, ‘What do you think it means for you to be here at Amherst College?’ I thought about that a lot and looking back on it, that’s not a question you can answer your first year,” Fernald said. “You won’t really know until it’s over. Ryan said that all he saw in front of us was space: space to fill over our four years at Amherst. I didn’t think we’d know what it meant for us to be here until we filled up that space.” Fernald filled up that space indeed. He kicked off his Amherst career by getting involved in several activities. He participated in other students’ theses, wrote for The Amherst Student for a year, performed with the concert choir, served as a tour guide and even worked as a math grader. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Although he had a great transition out of the gap year, Fernald felt it was difficult in a social way. He met a lot of interesting people during orientation, but didn’t get a chance to develop any potential friendships.
Fernald plans to follow his girlfriend, senior Shenglan Qiao, to the west coast as she attends graduate school.
“I forget that when I get involved in school, I really get involved,” Fernald said. “Amherst is a pretty busy place and maybe I didn’t take enough time for friendships. But I actually kept saying hi to people, even past orientation. It’s worth holding on to even the smallest familiarity. We have to fight the urge to look the other way when we pass by someone.” Those closest to Fernald attest to his friendliness and willingness to get to know other people. “Matt has the incredible ability to interact with ease with everyone he meets, whether they’re strangers or good friends. That’s saying something at Amherst, where many of us are socially awkward,” said Neha Wadia ’13, who has been a close friend since first year. Many of his friends agree that if they had to remember Fernald by one thing, it would be his contagious smile, often accompanied by a funny gesture he makes with his hands, as though he’s conducting some imaginary ensemble.
Fernald made it his mission to try to take classes in many departments. In addition to being an artsy guy, Fernald was also interested in foreign languages. He took Chinese his first semester at Amherst and continued to develop this interest, even going on to participate in two Five College Chinese Speech Contests. “Matt is a talented student who is always upbeat, energetic and has a great sense of humor,” said his Professor of Chinese, Xiaoping Teng. “What I remember most about Matt was that he was not only a student who cooperated with you, but also a student who cared about the whole class, and always actively thought of ways to improve the class.” Even in his class, Fernald wanted to develop relationships with other students. He was disappointed that he didn’t really meet people in class, like he did in high school. This is why Action and Character with Professor Peter Lobdell was one of his favorite classes at Amherst. “The class was fun and I improved my acting, but I really enjoyed this course because it was the only class I’ve taken where I actually met the other students in the course,” Fernald said. Fernald also composed a thesis in the music department this year. Like a lot of students, he had a vague idea of what he wanted to do, but didn’t come up with anything solid until two weeks before a proposal was due. His thesis, titled “An Evening with Aesop” was an hour-long production that Fernald described as a “narrated series of musical pieces.” He conducted the piece at the beginning of the semester and received praise from several people, including Mallorie Chernin, Director of Choral Music, with whom he worked all of his four years at Amherst. When it came to declaring a major, Fernald had no problem. He took three music courses during his sophomore year and he knew that is what he wanted to do for the rest of
Photos courtesy of Matt Fernald
A Zumbye and music major, Fernald composed and conducted an original thesis entitled “An Evening with Aesop.” his life. So deep is his passion for music that he joked, “My major is music and just music. Nothing else.”
Fernald’s father was a Zumbye during his senior year at Amherst. When Fernald was 15, his father bought him a CD and according to Fernald, it just so happens to be the best CD the Zumbyes have ever produced. Part of the reason he came to Amherst was because he wanted to be in the Zumbyes ever since he first heard their album. “The group had its ups and downs, but overall, I had a fantastic experience. I loved everyone in the group,” Fernald said. “We got to travel a lot so one of the things I enjoyed was getting to know New England and the East Coast.” Fernald recalls a trip to Williams College that the group went on earlier this year. Despite being abandoned by their hosts, Fernald and his fellow performers had a lot of fun running around the Williams campus and even tried to sing in the music building.
But when it comes to the most important aspect of his four years at Amherst, everything takes a back seat to his girlfriend, Shenglan Qiao ’13. “Could I have asked for a better relationship? We met our first year because we lived on the same floor. We started dating during the second semester and are still together and going strong,” Fernald said. “She is easily my best and closest friend on campus, as well as a girl whom I love to death. We’ve shared a lot over the years, and I hope we share much more after college.” Qiao described their first encounter as something special and
meaningful. They were both sitting in the second-floor common room of North and this was the first “real” conversation they had. Before then, Qiao couldn’t even tell him and Jeremy Simon ’13 apart. “We started talking because I asked Matt if he was ever amazed by how he ended up where he was,” Qiao said. “I had already lived in three countries, so that question was mostly for my own reflection.” Little did Qiao know that Fernald had also traveled abroad and had a whole life prior to starting his Amherst career. She realized that although they were born and raised in drastically different places, it was a miracle that brought them together precisely at that exact time. A friendship was born with the conversation that day, and the two started dating soon afterward.
After graduating, Fernald will be going to China for a year-long job teaching English to middle and high school kids. Eventually, he hopes that he will somehow find his way back to Disney World. In the long run, Fernald will be going to California to join his girlfriend, who will be completing a Ph.D. at Stanford Univ. Not one to forget about music, Fernald plans to be a teacher. “I’m not really sure if I’ll teach high school or middle school. I’m actually open to teaching at any level, K-12. I would not teach college. 9-12 would probably be a lot of fun,” Fernald said. “I’d love to teach music, but teaching math or a language could also be fun.” Whatever Fernald decides to do in the future, one thing is certain: he will touch people’s hearts with his generosity, sense of humor, spirits and vitality.
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Senior Profile Reilly Horan
Athlete, Theater Lover Radiates Warm Personality Horan brings a quirky warmth with her everywhere she goes, whether on the softball field or the stage. By Nicole Yang ‘16 Reilly Horan grew up under the mantra “no gesture is ever too grand” and has manifested this theme in all aspects of her life ever since. The warmth of her kindness, along with her humorous and outgoing personality, has made her a well-known and well-liked individual on campus. Students and faculty both applaud her for her ability to bring people together, which is evident through her involvement with the Theater and Dance Department, the English Department, the softball team and the Random Acts of Kindness club.
Her First Theater Troupe
Horan grew up in Darien, Conn. with her mother, father and three siblings. She, along with her older sister, Mackenzie (23), and younger brothers, Grayson (19) and Camden (16), were constantly performing as children, which sparked her interest in theater. One of her favorite playtime memories was building forts and huts with her brothers so that they could train for the army. Her parents always told her that “you should not be ashamed to express yourself or your love in weird ways.” For example, when her sister was going to study abroad, their entire family went to the airport and blasted Chris Brown’s “Forever” to wish her a farewell. These types of moments are what helped shape Horan’s interest in performing as her family was constantly making its own fun. Horan attended Holmes Elementary School in Darien; she describes herself as a tomboy during her years there and she has fond memories of wearing an oxford shirt and tie on picture day. Horan continued to incorporate theatrical antics into her time at school. One day she decided to divide the class into two countries, Japan and “Beefy Land,” and had the two groups wage war on each other. Her imagination thrived during recess, as she created her own little world with two of her friends. Together, they ran a “business” where they would have people complete — and pay for — silly tasks such
as rides down the slides. Horan’s funloving and performing nature carried over into the classroom, as she loved all the school projects where she got to act as other people. She preferred creative projects to worksheets and loved to build stuff with her hands. Her hands-on nature led her to become involved in the tech work of plays at her middle school, Middlesex Middle School. Horan loved being behind the scenes, and, even though she never acted in a play during those years, she still was able to perform in the classroom. She remembers projects where she had to impersonate Oprah Winfrey or a Greek god. Horan’s imagination became limited to the classroom as middle school cut out recess, which was hard for her since she felt she was most herself when she played outside. However, middle school was when Horan learned that she liked to write. With the inﬂuence of an English teacher, Ms. Scott, she began to discover her interest in creative writing; Ms. Scott was the ﬁrst teacher who helped change the way Horan learned and thought.
Stepping into Her Role
In middle school, Horan remembers being “perpetually uncomfortable” with herself and with her weird haircut, resembling that of the girl from the Wendy’s logo — red hair and all. She had few close friends and had trouble in ﬁnding her place amongst her fellow students. Once she reached high school, though, she started to ﬁnd kids that not only acted but also thought similarly to her. Horan found a core group of friends her sophomore year, which was a great source of support. Horan loved the theater department at her high school because of its welcoming nature; it promoted ideas of acceptance and taught not to be judgmental. Throughout her high school career, she learned how to build sets with help from Lee Strecker, a technology education teacher. Her senior year, she was the president of the theater depart-
Horan is a valuable player not only for her personal record but also for her sportsmanship and leadership ability.
ment and produced Les Misérables, which Horan found special because “Les Mis” is her favorite musical. Horan became similarly infatuated with the theater department at Amherst. Performing had always been a part of her life, and the courses Action and Character, Language of Movement and Vocal Freedom all increased her desire to perform further. While she majored in Theater and Dance, Professor Ronald Bashford describes her as an “all-around major:” she’s done acting, writing and design work, including both scenic and lighting design. For her senior thesis, Horan wrote and performed in a play called “YES,” which was inspired by This is Water by David Foster Wallace. It centered on the theme of “how you deal with the monotony and mundanity of adult life.” As Professor Bashford put it, the play is an “afﬁrmation of living in the moment.” Horan felt that her thesis tied back into her childhood, as both deal with the importance of “expressing your weirder impulses.” Horan ended her production with a gospel choir because she loves how they are full of life and believes that they embody theatricality. After spending a lot of one-on-one time working on her thesis, Professor Bashford will certainly miss Horan’s presence. “She really cares about other people, and you feel that instantly,” Professor Bashford said. “She has nothing to hide.”
Covering all the Bases
Horan’s interests were not limited to theater. Coming from an athletic family, she started with tee-ball and little league at a young age and played softball throughout middle school and high school. Her varsity team at Darien High School was competitive in the Connecticut State Tournament her senior year, and her success continued throughout college even with a new team. At Amherst, Horan has earned many softball accolades. She holds the program’s record for hits and RBIs, and she was also the team’s MVP for the spring 2013 season (when she was also the team captain). She garnered All-NESCAC academic honors for three consecutive years as well as earning a spot on the All-NESCAC second team. She was also named to the Capital One All-District First Team, for which student-athletes must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.30 in addition to signiﬁcant athletic credentials. Horan ﬁnished her softball career with 168 hits, seven home runs and 105 RBIs; she also hit .377 in her ﬁnal season. Besides the sport itself, Horan has enjoyed the fact that every team she has played on has been an “eclectic bunch of girls.” As she puts it, in softball, there are so many different types of people who can be successful at the sport, which makes the team a very diverse group. She loves spending time with her teammates, and they all have formed solid relationships with each other. “[Reilly is] the type that can lighten the mood without overstepping her boundaries. She always brings the right attitude to the ﬁeld regardless of how good or bad her own day has been,” said Coach Whitney Mollica Goldstein.
THE AMHERST STUDENT: COMMENCEMENT EDITION MAY 24TH, 2013
Photos courtesy of Reilly Horan
Involved in theater since middle school, Horan doesn’t limit herself to any one role: she acts, writes, designs and produces. While Horan loves competing, she also takes care of teammates and can have fun with them as well. “She has the drive to really hold her teammates accountable and make those around her better. She always has good intentions, and her teammates respect her,” Coach Mollica Goldstein said. “Reilly consistently showed selfless acts, which is huge to be an effective leader”. Horan’s selﬂess nature and leadership abilities carried over into her position as an athletic liaison for the Center of Community Engagement. She describes this experience as a “fruitful experiment,” as she was able to get sports teams to participate in community engagement projects.
Horan has viewed her father as her lifelong coach, but she also sees both of her parents as lifelong learners. Her father, Peter, is a mortgage broker and is currently in school to become a math teacher, and her mother, Beth, is an emergency room nurse and is also in school furthering her degree. Her parents have raised her to “do what you love and do it with every ﬁber of your being.” Horan has never felt pressure to follow a certain track, and she has always had open, honest lines of communication with her parents. Horan was drawn to Amherst principally because of the open curriculum and, since she planned to pursue both softball and theater, she knew that Div. III and NESCAC schools would be a great ﬁt. She also liked the small size of the school because it would allow her to form close relationships with select professors. One of those professors at Amherst was English Professor Alicia Christoff, whom Horan sees as her main mentor. As an English and Theater and Dance double major, Reilly found herself
especially intrigued by the psychoanalytic and Freudian aspects of literature. Horan took Psychoanalysis and Literature, a Special Topics class, and Reading Post-Freudian Psychoanalysis — all with Professor Christoff — who describes Horan as “an earnest, hardworking and tenacious student.” When she ran into difﬁcult ideas, Horan always stuck with it. “She was not afraid to articulate what she understood in class, which was really great because it would help other people understand it too. She wasn’t afraid to be wrong,” Professor Christoff remarked. “She would just put her ideas out there.”
What the Future Holds
Next year, Horan will be working as a graduate assistant in the Theater and Dance department. She will be spending a lot of time in the carpentry shop to build the scenery and design work for next year’s students’ theses. She hopes to build her portfolio during this year so that she can make meaningful theater later in life, whether it is through writing, performing or designing. Her lifelong dream is to write a musical because she believes that musicals “model how life should be lived.” One of the items on her bucket list is to see as many Broadway shows as she can. She also hopes to go to a ﬁlming of “Saturday Night Live,” meet John Krasinski (since she is a lifelong fan of “The Ofﬁce”) and become best friends with Tina Fey and Kristen Wiig. Regardless of what she ends up pursuing, almost everybody who’s gotten to know her trusts her outgoing and hardworking personality will lead her to success. “Whatever she does, she’s going to be bringing people together,” Professor Bashford said. “I think that’s her great gift.”
BILLY, CONGRATULATIONS ON GRADUATING! WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU AND LOVE YOU ALWAYS XOXO UNCLE STEVE, AUNT AMANDA, MICHAEL, STEPH, TAYLOR AND CASSIE
Senior Profile Roshard Bryant’14E
A Basketball Star Takes His Talents to the Community Bryant’s dedication to the Amherst community and passion for education are second to none. By Andre Wang ’14
My first chat with Roshard Bryant ’14E took place at an international student welcome picnic organized by the Center for Community Engagement. Going into the championship duel of a spirited round of the “Wah” game, we talked lightly about his CEOT leadership and how the game perpetually dominated orientations, while other gamers deliberated on the vegetable we would imitate. A towering figure, Bryant nevertheless carried a natural ease and amicable charm, an indelible mix I would constantly admire later on. Indeed, over the course of his time at Amherst, Bryant has left an enduring mark on the campus community as a basketball star, an outstanding student leader on community engagement and a warmhearted friend. “He is known by all and loved by many,” Bryant’s close friend Justin Ramos ’13 said. “His presence on campus dwarfs his height, and that is difficult to do.”
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Bryant was the youngest child of nine. Despite growing up in a disadvantaged neighborhood, he felt sheltered compared to his peers because of the sense of stability and safety within his home. “We lived in the same neighborhood, we saw the same things, [we] heard the same gunshots, [our] brothers were in the same gangs, but I had a different [life] experience,” Bryant said. “I had a home and parents to come home to every night.” In contrast to his family, Bryant’s K-12 education was anything but stable, a kaleidoscopic journey through six schools that ranged from public to private, secular to Catholic and independent to boarding in two states. The resulting exposure to various pedagogies and relationships with diverse educators set an undertone for his later passion for education. Among these schools, however,
two vastly different places emerged as definitive influences on him as a student and a person. The first was the East Harlem School at Exodus House (EHS), an independent school established in 1993. Formerly a drug rehabilitation center, EHS cultivated children from low-income families in the East Harlem community through rigorous, almost militant discipline, with the strong belief that hard work, respect and faith would bring people out of poverty. Bryant’s time there from fifth to sixth grade branded these values into his character. “This is the school where I learned to ‘sit up straight,’ ‘nod your head when an adult is talking to you,’ ‘[make] eye contact,’ a lot of these simple things that they stressed over an over again,” Bryant recalled. “It was an intense place, but … the root of why I value my education so much was developed at the East Harlem School.” The second was Suffield Academy, a private boarding school in Connecticut where he was one of merely 30 students of color in a school of over 400. Bryant transferred there from his previous 5,000-student public high school, where he picked up and excelled at basketball but did not find the academic fuel he needed. “Suffield ended up being a huge, huge transformation for me,” Bryant reflected. At Suffield, he lived up to the expectation, gained great popularity among his peers, and tried many new things he had not savored before — tap dancing, theater and video editing, to name a few. His confidence was boosted. It was also at Suffield that Bryant became the mentee of Nisa Bryant, then Associate Director of Admissions, who had previously worked at EHS and convinced him to consider Amherst when the men’s basketball team recruited him. He went on a recruitment tour with his teammates
A Black Studies major, Bryant hopes to study next fall in Chile. In twenty years he sees himself as a principal of a high school.
to Williams, Wesleyan, Colby and Babson, among many others, and finally chose the school whose academic prestige he believed would pave the way for his future, despite the fact that his family had no idea what or where Amherst was.
A Commitment to the Community
Bryant arrived at Amherst as a member of the men’s basketball team. But after two knee surgeries that kept him from the court, and a frustrating fall semester in his sophomore year, Bryant decided to take the spring semester off and work for New Heights, an organization which he had been a member of as a high school student. The job turned out to be a blessing in disguise: working for this non-profit educational organization, which provides support and opportunities for young inner-city athletes, soon kindled Bryant’s passion for K-12 education. Upon getting off his crutches and leaving New Heights, he applied to become a Community Engagement Orientation Trip program assistant. Bryant attended CEOT himself as an incoming first-year student and appreciated the work done by the CCE. Yet he also saw room for improvement. Bryant considered the old theory-volunteerism model of CEOT simplistic and insufficient, but addressing these flaws in programming would not be an easy task. Bryant was intrigued, therefore, when directors Sarah Barr and Molly Mead introduced him to popular education, a concept developed by philosopher Paulo Freire. To Bryant, its core of sharing stories, finding personal relevance of education by the oppressed and the belief that “any form of education comes from individuals themselves” had the potential to transform CEOT into a more meaningful experience. Encouraged by Barr and Mead, Bryant traveled with two other students and an alumnus the following summer to Highlander Research and Education Center, a leadership training school in Tennessee that produced Civil Rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. During their four-day stay, the group witnessed first-hand how lack of social privilege and knowledge of the land affected those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The visit to Highlander had a huge effect on Bryant and CEOT. Inspired by a methodology he encountered there, Bryant helped to redirect the focus of CEOT from theory and service to learning through communication. “We have to create relationships with these individuals and find out what’s going on in the community before we can even think about asking an organization how we can help.” Bryant explained. By integrating such activities as community walks and scavenger hunts, CEOT gave students more opportunity to interact with local people and institutions and to understand the history and legacy of Holyoke and Amherst. Students embraced the new format and said that they learned to critically think about
Photos courtesy of Roshard Bryant
Bryant came to Amherst as a basketball player, but after multiple surgeries he found his passion for community service. their roles in community engagement through the trips — exactly the type of change the CCE and Bryant were looking for.
Amherst & Beyond
Apart from basketball and community engagement, Bryant’s academic path and extracurricular activities also weaved into his narrative on education. At Amherst, Bryant immersed himself in Sociology, Black Studies, English and Theater and Dance classes. Currently a Black Studies major, he found great enjoyment and inspiration in courses such as “The Craft of Speaking” (one of his favorite classes at Amherst), “Democracy and Education,” “Giving,” “Storytelling as Performance” and a course on American education, the latter two at Hampshire College and Smith College, respectively. Bryant took classroom participation to the next level by making everyone think. “[Roshard] was perhaps most influential [in] the ways he challenged students and the professor alike to examine their own presuppositions when it came to issues before us, and as a result of his efforts, we were able to see ourselves and the social world very differently.” Professor Ronald Lembo remarked. Outside of classroom, Bryant has co-chaired the Black Student Union, contributed to the development of Amherst Christian Fellowship and helped out La Causa and Charles Drew House, where he lived his sophomore year. In addition, he served as an Athletics Liaison for the CCE for two years, worked for a summer enrichment program at the Amherst Regional Middle School and gave his voice in the dialogue surround the re-envisioning of the Multicultural Resources Center. In others’ eyes, Bryant’s dedication to these activities exemplifies his character. “The first word [to me] that describes Roshard is ‘sacrifice’ because he is always giving his time and energy to others even when he does not have the time. Despite his personal endeavors, he is always willing to prioritize someone or something over himself,” Christopher Lewis ’13 remarked. Professor Barry O’Connell, with
whom Bryant took “Democracy and Education,” agreed. “Roshard brings unusual and special qualities to everything he does,” Professor O’Connell said. “He has become one of the memorable leaders on campus, one of the two or three genuinely outstanding ones I have known in my 40 years here.” Even as he is about to conclude his college years, Bryant has shown no sign of slowing down. As of now, he is petitioning to study abroad in Chile next fall to further explore popular education and planning to graduate with his designed major in Popular Education and Social Change, if all goes well. Afterwards, he looks forward to earning a Master’s degree in education and learning as much as he can on the art and craft of teaching and storytelling, an approach he found critical in the collective classroom experience. “What about teacher preparation programs? Not until they are treated like medical residencies,” he said. “The same amount of expertise and training that needs to be put into taking care of somebody’s body [also] needs to be put into taking care of somebody’s mind.” Whether playing a game with him, asking for his help on my Black Studies paper, or interviewing him for this profile, I have often encountered insights like this in the past year I have known Bryant, where his intelligence and dedication shine through. Lewis vouched for Bryant’s passion. “It does not matter what the project entails; if Roshard commits to it, you can guarantee that he will give 110 percent of his effort,” Lewis said. Bryant’s ultimate dream and hope is to become a principal at a public high school, and he gives himself 20 years to get there. Professor O’Connell is confident about Bryant’s future. “His leadership abilities are such that all who know him well expect he will make a considerable impact after and beyond Amherst,” Professor O’Connell said. With his exceptional combination of energy, commitment and charm, Bryant is well on his way.
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Sports Recap Fall Season
Photos courtesy of Niahlah Hope ’15. Risalat Khan ’13, Megan Robertson ’15, Mark Idleman ’15.
Looking Back at Another Year of Sports Successes Field Hockey
The Lady Jeffs’ 11-5 season nearly ended in a NESCAC crown. After an exhilarating, double-overtime win at Trinity in the conference semifinals, the underdog Jeffs traveled to Middlebury for the championship game. They found themselves in another overtime thriller; this time, however, they were on the wrong end of the decision, as the Panthers came away with the win and the league title. In fact, four of the Jeffs’ five losses on the year came in overtime, ample proof that the team was competitive in every game it played. Had just one more play gone the team’s way, it may well have received a berth in the NCAA tournament. Of the squad’s four seniors, none proved more valuable than Katie McMahon, who led the squad in total points and was the principal offensive stalwart all season long. She will be gone in the fall of 2013, but several key players will return, including twosport athlete and All-American Alex Philie ’14 and goalie Rachel Tannenbaum ’15. The Lady Jeffs will look to avenge their near miss this year with a title.
The football team went 6-2 in their 2012 season with wins against Hamilton, Bowdoin, Colby, Wesleyan, Tufts and Williams. The homecoming game was especially memorable as it was the final game on Pratt Field, and Amherst topped their archrivals with a thrilling come-from-behind 23-20 win. This game was also the final game for the Class of 2013, which proved to be one of the winningest classes in Amherst football history as the 14 seniors have a record of 28-4 over the past four seasons. Six of these seniors received All-NESCAC honors. Offensive lineman John Ceccio ’13 earned his third-consecutive first team selection, and defensive players Travis Dickenson ’13 and Michael Aldo ’13 were also chosen for the first team. Defensive lineman, Matthew Sponheimer ’13, inside linebacker Sam Clark ’13 and wide receiver James Durham ’13 all earned second team honors. Finishing third in the NESCAC, Amherst had an overall successful season and will miss their seniors next season.
The Amherst women’s soccer team had a great fall 2012 season, finishing 13-2-2 overall and 8-1-1 in the NESCAC.
The team’s only losses came from Williams in the regular season and Lasell in the first round of the NCAA championship. The 3-2 loss to the Williams was extremely heartbreaking as the Lady Jeffs had been up 2-0 before the Ephs scored three unanswered goals, two of which came in the final 24:05 of the game. The 3-1 loss to Lasell cut Amherst’s season short as the team will say goodbye to five remarkable seniors. Both Kathryn Nathan ’13 and Sandy Shepherd ’13 were picked for the NEWISA Senior Bowl, while Nathan was also selected for the NSCAA/Continental Tire All-America second team and Shepherd earned an All-Region Selection. Nathan was named to the D3soccer. com All-American Team as well. Despite losing a strong senior class, the team’s first-year class, led by Jessy Hale, Megan Kim and goalkeeper Holly Burwick, hopes to continue the success next season.
the NESCAC. The team recorded nine 3-0 shut out wins, with Lizzie Ahern ’16 leading the team in kills. Ahern was ranked third in the NESCAC in kills and was the first Amherst rookie to earn AllNESCAC honors since 2000. Nicole Carter ’16, another talented freshman, led the team in assists with 699. In one of the team’s most thrilling matches of the season, the two underclassmen and Lauren Antion ’15 helped lead the Firedogs to a victory over NESCAC champion Middlebury on the team’s senior night. Ahern had a match-high 19 kills and Antion added 17 more as Amherst defeated Middlebury 3-2. Even though the Lady Jeffs did not qualify for the NCAA tournament and are losing four seniors, the team has a talented group of firstyears to help lead next season.
Women The women’s cross country team had a very successful 2012 season as they qualified for the NCAA National Championship in Terre Haute, Ind. Senior captain Keri Lambert had a phenomenal season finishing in the top three individuals for every race she ran. Lambert placed first overall in four meets, including the NESCAC Championship and the NCAA Regional Championship. Her college career culminated in the NCAA National Championship where she finished third overall. Fellow senior captain, Lauren Almeida, and All-NESCAC Lizzy Briskin ’15 both had solid seasons as well, consistently finishing second and third for the team. In the Little III Championship, Briskin finished ninth and Almeida was close behind in 10th. The two also had strong showings in the NESCAC Championship with Briskin in 14th overall and Almeida in 16th. Despite losing Lambert and Almeida next year, Amherst looks to continue its success with a talented first-year class, featuring Anna Berglund, Betsy Black, Keelin Moehl, Caroline Rose, Lexi Sinclair, Sarah Foster and Rachel Duong.
The Amherst men’s soccer team had a remarkable fall 2012 season, capturing their second straight NESCAC title before falling to archrival Williams in the NCAA Quarterfinals. With talented first-year Thomas Bull protecting the net, Amherst had 15 shutout wins, zero losses and three ties. Their three meetings against Williams proved to be their most competitive contests. The first one ended in a brutal 0-0 tie after double overtime, as Amherst had six shots on goal but could not connect. The second match-up came in the NESCAC finals where Amherst triumphed with a 2-0 win with the goals from Jae Heo ’14 and James Mooney ’13. The third game came in the national tournament, NCAA Quarterfinals, where Amherst fell to Williams in a heartbreaking loss that ended with penalty kicks. This season was historic for the Jeffs as they set single-season program records for both number of wins and goals. Captain Spencer Noon ’13 received a number of accolades as he was named to the Capital One Men’s Soccer Academic All-America second team as well as the NSCAA/Continental Tire NCAA DIII Men’s All-America first team. Noon is also the first person in the program’s history to surpass the 100-point plateau.
The Amherst volleyball team had a solid fall 2012 season going 14-9 overall and 7-3 in
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Men The men’s cross country team had a slow start to their 2012 fall season but finished on a high note, placing first out of 43 in the ECAC DIII Championship and 11th out of 50 in the NCAA Regional Championship.
The sophomore class had a stellar season as KC Fussell, Romey Sklar and Greg Tirissini led the team in many of their races. In the Little III Championship, Turissini place sixth overall with Fussell close behind in eighth, while in the ECACs, Sklar finished fifth overall out of 287 runners. Seniors captains, Andrew Erksine, Dillon Buckley and Patrick Grimes all had great seasons as well to end their college careers. In the NESCAC Championship, Erksine finished 16th, and Grimes finished 39th to lead Amherst. Buckley’s most notable race was when he finished third in the ECAC Championship. Jeff Seelaus ’16 and Scott Gemmell-Davis ’16 led the first-year class of runners and look to contribute more next season.
Women The Lady Jeffs topped Williams on Oct. 6, 6-3, behind the strong play of doubles partners Jordan Brewer ’14 and Sue Ghosh ’16 as well as Caroline Richman ’13 and Safaa Aly ’15. In singles action, Brewer and Richman notched key wins, as did juniors Jen Newman and Zoe Pangalos. Following their defeat of the Ephs, the Lady Jeffs took part in the New England Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament (NEWITT). Once again, Brewer and Ghosh shone as a doubles tandem and, after dropping just two matches all weekend, eventually took home the championship. Notably, Brewer, along with classmate Gabby Devlin, also won the doubles championship at the Stony Brook Women’s Tennis Classic earlier in the fall. In singles play, she also reached the semifinals at the ITA Regionals. Men The Jeffs’ best showing of the fall came at the ITA Regionals, an event that was disrupted by rain and eventually moved indoors. There, in the singles semifinals, first-year Ben Fife defeated senior teammate Mark Kahan ’13. Fife would play another teammate, Andrew Yaraghi ’16, in the finals, with Yaraghi eventually prevailing. After a pair of tough road losses to Johns Hopkins and Carnegie Mellon, the squad took on Wesleyan on Oct. 13 and cruised to an 8-1 victory. A pair of first-years, Aaron Revzin and Michael Solimano, won a tight No. 1 doubles match for the Jeffs, which gave the team all the momentum it needed.
Sports Recap Winter Season and 5K. At the Tufts Last Chance meet Lambert won the 3K. The Amherst native’s best result, though, came at Nationals, where Lambert took sixth in the 5K to earn All-American honors and secure three points for her team. Men The men’s indoor track team took 45th of 63 at NCAA Championships in North Central, IL to wrap up their 2012-2013 season — a campaign that saw some stellar individual achievements and the collective shedding of seconds as several Jeffs earned personal bests on the track. Perhaps the most impressive runner of all was junior Matt Melton, who placed third at the NEICAAA Championship in the 800m and posted Div. III’s 10th lowest time of the season, a 1:51.94. Along with Melton, senior Pat Grimes enjoyed a speedy indoor season, posting an impressive time of 4:11.72 in the mile at Tufts Last Chance Meet. The time earned him the fourth overall seed at Nationals. At Nationals, Melton took sixth-place in the 800, good enough for All-America recognition. Grimes, meanwhile, placed 11th in the preliminary race for the mile and failed to qualify for the finals. Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
The women’s basketball team enjoyed another terrific season under the tutelage of head coach G.P. Gromacki. The team lost only once in the regular season, away at Williams, but otherwise enjoyed a dominant season that included the team’s fourth-straight NESCAC title and fifth-straight trip to the Final Four. The Jeffs suffered a tragic loss in the national Semifinals, losing on a buzzer-beater in OT to WisconsinWhitewater. In the conslation game, Williams again got the best of the Lady Jeffs, as Amherst had to settle for fourth place nationally. Senior guard Marcia Voigt enjoyed a successful season at the point for Amherst, averaging 12.7 points and 4.4 assists per game — her best season statistically in her four years. Voigt earned first-team d3hoops.com All-Northeast Region and WBCA honorable mention accolades. This season also saw Voigt eclipse the 1,000-point barrier and positioned her sixth alltime in assists and 12th in scoring.
It was a season for the ages for the men’s basketball team. After losing two out of three in early December, the Jeffs regrouped to win 24 straight, reclaim their NESCAC title and win the program’s second-ever National Championship. There were highlights galore for the Jeffs this season, most notably senior captain Willy Workman’s intentional miss and putback at the freethrow line to tie the game as time expired in the second session of overtime at Middlebury. There was also senior Allen Williamson’s block in the waning moments of the NESCAC Final against Williams — a block that had to have gone five rows deep into the LeFrak stands as Amherst held on to win its second-straight NESCAC title, 74-73. And then, of course, there was the NCAA run, which really wasn’t all that difficult for the Jeffs when you look at the results. Only once, in the Semifinal against North Central, did the Jeffs win a game by single digits, as the other four wins were routs for the Jeffs. Amherst graduates three senior starters: Workman, Williamson and monster center Pete Kaasila. They will be tough to replace, but certainly the return of two-time NESCAC Player of the Year and first-team All-America selection Aaron Toomey means big things are absolutely in store for the Amherst men’s basketball team.
Men’s Ice Hockey
Coming off the program’s first-ever trip to the Frozen Four, the men’s hockey team struggled to find consistency in NESCAC play this season. Despite finishing with a 15-7-3 record (11-5-2 NESCAC), the team failed to defend its
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
NESCAC title, bowing out of the tournament in the Quarters to Middlebury, 4-3. Senior captain Johnny Van Siclen led the way for the Amherst team, scoring 14 goals and adding 12 assists in his 22 games played. Fellow senior Mike Moher also enjoyed a successful final season, ending with 24 points and 78 career points for the Purple and White. Between the pipes, senior Nathan Corey recorded a save percentage of .916, or 2.15 goals per game in 20 games played. While this season was, by most accounts, a disappointment after the team’s 2011-2012 campaign, the Jeffs will certainly take solace in the captainships of rising-seniors Andrew Kurlandski and Brian Safstrom. The two have combined for 98 points and have both the experience and talent to bring their squad back to the forefront of the NESCAC and back to Lake Placid for the Frozen Four.
Women’s Ice Hockey
The women’s ice hockey team finished their 2012-2013 campaign with a 13-11-1 (10-5-1 NESCAC) record, falling to Bowdoin 3-1 in the NESCAC Semis after bouncing Hamilton, 5-1, in the Quarters. The team struggled to put together any substantial win-streak, finishing just above .500 and unable to reach the conference tournament finals for the first time since the 2005-06 season. Leading the way for the Lady Jeffs was fourtime first-team All-NESCAC selection Geneva Lloyd ’13. The defensemen is the first-ever player to be named to four consecutive firstteam selections since the inception of the award in 2002. Lloyd also earned a spot on the ACHA first-team All-America team, along with being named runner-up for the Hurd Award, the country’s best overall player. The Lady Jeffs will undoubtedly miss the class of 2013, a class that helped with a league and national championship during the 20092010 season.
Women Led by five first-year players, the women’s squash team enjoyed its best season in recent history, finishing 14-7 and finding themselves back in the ‘B’ division of CSA nationals. The Lady Jeffs also took fifth at NESCACs and finished 15th nationally, a stellar end of the year ranking when considering the fact that Amherst competes against and is ranked against Div. I programs and plays regularly the best programs in the country. Among just Div. III teams, the Lady Jeffs placed fifth — a testament to how strong the NESCAC Conference really is. Senior Chandler Lusardi led the way for the women at the top of the ladder, picking up her first All-NESCAC award with a spot on the second team. At the top spot, Lusardi posted a 13-10 record and went 8-3 against NESCAC opponents.
the team’s Pioneer Valley Invitational marked the first time in head coach Peter Robson’s 26-year tenure that the Jeffs fell to the Cardinals. Wesleyan also got the better of Amherst at Little IIIs, though Amherst would have the last laugh as the Jeffs topped Wesleyan 5-4 at NESCACs, a crucial win that helped them take fifth at NESCACS. Looking forward, the Jeffs should only continue to improve as they only graduate two seniors. Noah Browne ’16 enjoyed an excellent season at the top of the Jeffs ladder, garnering first-team All-NESCAC honors, an impressive achievement for a rookie.
Swimming and Diving
Men Despite landing 13 swimmers on All-NESCAC teams, the Jeffs swimming and diving team couldn’t best Williams at NESCACS, taking second of 11 schools while Williams cruised to its 11th-straight NESCAC title. Leading the way for the Jeffs were Tyler Bulakul ’14 and Conor Deveney ’15, both of whom set records at the meet. Bulakul’s 200-yard butterfly time of 1:48.36 set a new meet, pool, and Amherst record as the junior qualified for Nationals and won the event, while Deveney’s time of 1:47.91 in the preliminary 200-yard backstroke broke the NESCAC, pool, and meet-records. At Nationals, the Jeffs placed seventh and finished ahead of Williams as a nice consolation prize. Connor Sholtis ’15 led the men at nationals, taking sixth in the 100 free and fourth in the 200 free — the only Amherst swimmer to earn All-America recognition in two events. In years to come it seems that it will be Amherst and Williams again gutting it out for the top spot in the NESCAC while the rest of the field will be well behind. Perhaps the team’s strong performance at Nationals will give the Jeffs the necessary confidence it will take to break the Ephs 11-year streak.
Men It was an up and down year for the men’s squash team, who finished 12-13 and fifth at the NESCAC tournament. After beginning their year with two home losses to Drexel and George Washington, respectively, the Jeffs could never claw their way back to .500, though there were certainly some high moments over the course of the season. Jake Albert ’15 picked up a key win for Amherst, rallying back to beat his Conn. College opponent in five games and secure an Amherst win, 5-4. The Jeffs also ended their season at CSA Nationals with another 5-4 win over Conn. College before getting their revenge on Drexel, topping the Dragons 5-4. Perhaps the biggest lowlight of the season for Amherst was losing to Wesleyan. The 5-4 at
Women It’s hard to look back on the women’s swimming and diving season and think it could have gone any better. After winning NESCACs for the first time in program history and stealing the title away from Williams for the first time in 12 seasons, the Lady Jeffs took sixth at Nationals, their best performance ever. While there were several impressive swimmers and divers for the Amherst team this winter, arguably the most important was first-year swimmer Emily Hyde. Not only did she break the Amherst record in the 200-yard breaststroke twice (at NESCACs and then again at Nationals), the rookie also swam to three All-American performances at Nationals in her first-ever meet. Meanwhile on the diving board, Lizzy Linsmayer ’14 not only won NESCACs, but took second and third at Nationals, despite being abroad for the first semester and entering the season with low expectations. It was, by all accounts, as good as it could have gotten for the Lady Jeffs in the pool.
Photo courtesy of Niahlah Hope’ 15
Photo courtesy of Niahlah Hope ’15
Indoor Track and Field
Women Not surprisingly, the women’s indoor track season was led by brilliant efforts by Keri Lambert ’13 and Naomi Bates ’14. From basically the first meet of the season Bates seemed to dominate her three events — the long jump, the 60-meter dash and the 200meter. Over the course of her season she broke her own record in the long jump and helped her team win the Springfield Invitational. Lambert, meanwhile, seemed to carry her success from her cross country season (in which she won NESCACs and took third at Nationals), posting all-around solid times in the mile, 3K
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
Sports Recap Spring Season Baseball The Jeffs finished their regular season with a 27-13 record, including a 9-3 mark in their division. More importantly, they finally captured that elusive NESCAC Championship, their first since 2005, by defeating Wesleyan twice in the tournament finals. Playing in Middletown, Conn., the Jeffs followed up a thrilling, 5-4, 13-inning victory with a resounding 7-0 shutout to secure the crown.
With the departure of Monty, Lee and Sooji Choi ’14, as the team’s sole seniors, will assume leadership roles as the Lady Jeffs look for another strong season.
An up-and-down spring that, at one point, saw the Lady Jeffs win five straight ultimately ended in an 11-3, NESCAC Quarterfinal defeat at Colby. Regular season highlights included several big home wins, including a 9-8 defeat of Bates and a 16-7 rout of Williams. Overall, the Lady Jeffs finished 9-6 and 5-5 in their division, a step down from their 13-5 spring a year ago. Marta Randall and Hillary Densen were the team’s two biggest senior standouts, while Priscilla Tyler ’15 led the team in goals and developed into a formidable scoring threat. With all but three players returning next year — including Tyler — the Lady Jeffs should look to contend for a title in 2014. As next year’s senior leaders, Alex Philie ’14 and Krista Zsitvay ’14 look to play a prominent role in that success.
Photo courtesy of Office of Public Affairs
As conference champions, the team gained an automatic berth in the NCAA Div. III tournament, where they won twice before being eliminated with two close losses. Following the stellar season, several Jeffs received individual accolades. Senior Bob Cook received the NESCAC Pitcher of the Year distinction; he was joined by shortstop Taiki Kasuga ’14, who was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. Finally, Mike Odenwaelder ’16, who led the team in home runs and RBI’s, garnered Rookie of the Year honors.
It was a difficult year for coach Jon Thompson’s team; the squad finished just 5-10 and 3-7 in their division. The Jeffs stumbled out of the gate with a pair of tough, overtime road losses and never seemed to gain much momentum. If one were to pick a season highlight, it would be the team’s 10-9 win at Williams on April 20, a victory that allowed them to play in the first round of the NESCAC tournament. There, however, they lost to Middlebury in their worst defeat of the spring. Still, there is room for optimism: the 2013 Jeffs were a young team, and five of their
Women Like the men, the women’s golf team played three events in the spring of 2013. At the Vassar Invitational, the Lady Jeffs finished a respectable fourth out of 11, with senior Liz Monty leading the way by tying for third individually. At the Jack Leaman Invitational, Monty excelled once again, finishing second individually (one stroke ahead of Williams’ Georgiana Salant). As a team, the host Lady Jeffs finished fifth out of 12. To close out their season, the Amherst squad took home third of seven at the Williams Spring Invitational. This time, Monty was matched by Kristen Lee ’14; each shot a two-day 170 to tie for ninth overall.
solid 3.23 ERA. Donna Leet ’15 hit at a .369 clip and slugged seven home runs, while Kaitlin Silkowitz ’14, who figures to be one of the squad’s leaders next year, turned in an astounding .478 average for the spring. While Arielle Doering ’14 will likely take over for Kelley next year as the teams number one starter, Leet and Silkowitz will be there to anchor the offense and help the Lady Jeffs get back to the playoffs.
Photo courtesy of Megan Robertson ’15
Women Competing in the same events as the men, the Lady Jeffs produced six all-NESCAC selections and turned in several strong lateseason team performances. The team took second at the Little III Championships and eighth at the NESCAC Championships. Then, the Lady Jeffs seemed to hit their stride, taking ninth of 25 at the Div. III New England Championships and 14th of 35 at the All-New England Championships. Senior Keri Lambert led the Amherst allconference selections with two awards, an individual recognition for a dominant performance in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and a prize for running a leg of the 4x800-meter relay. Fellow senior Lauren Almeida joined Lambert with a win in the 1,500-meter run, while classmate Sarah Daly was honored for placing second in the 5,000-meter event.
Men Between their return from the west coast and the final game of the NESCAC tournament, the Jeffs were essentially untouchable. They won all 13 of their regular-season matches, and seven of those victories came either by scores of 9-0 or 8-1. The defending NESCAC Champions, the Jeffs weren’t quite able to repeat; they fell in the conference finals by one point to a stellar Williams team that had also played them close during the regular season. Still, the Jeffs’ 29-8 record easily enabled them to make the NCAA tournament, where they won three straight to advance to the semifinals, where they eventually fell to ClaremontMudd-Scripps. The Jeffs’ success is nothing new; 2013 marked Coach Chris Garner’s fifth straight campaign with at least 27 wins. Though the team graduates a talented crop of six seniors, rising upperclassmen such as Joey Fritz ’14 are sure to provide outstanding leadership next year.
Though they were 24-12 overall, the Lady Jeffs’ season was a disappointing one, as they went 4-8 in their division and failed to make the NESCAC tournament. The spring hurt particularly on the heels of a 36-6 2012 campaign that saw the Lady Jeffs make the NCAA tournament. Despite this, several players impressed at an individual level, beginning with senior infielder Reilly Horan, who hit .377, and senior pitcher Theresa Kelley, who started 19 games and finished with a
Women It was another outstanding year for the Lady Jeffs, who went 20-2 overall and, like the men, were undefeated in the regular season against Div. III opponents. As good as both Amherst tennis teams were, Williams seemed to have the Jeffs’ number in 2013. In addition to beating the men’s team in the NESCAC finals, the Ephs turned away the women’s team from a NESCAC title by handing them a 5-2 defeat in the conference championship game. Like the men, however, the women were more than qualified to make the NCAA tournament. There, they reeled off three straight, fairly easy wins but dropped a tough semifinal match to Emory. The three seniors on the 2013 team — Sarah Nyirjesy, Kate Paul and Caroline Richman — were integral to the Lady Jeffs’ success, but there’s no reason to believe that the team won’t be back in the conference finals in 2014.
Photo courtesy of Risalat Khan ’13
Photo courtesy of Niahlah Hope ’15
Golf In their three outings of the spring, the men’s golf team turned in a solid showing and narrowly lost the Little III title. At the Hampton Inn Invitational hosted by UMassDartmouth (April 13), Jarvis Sill ’15 tied for fifth individually (just three strokes behind the winner) and paced the Jeffs with a 75 in the rain-shortened event. As a team, the Jeffs finished third overall in a field of 20. At Williams’ Spring Invitational, while the Jeffs as a team finished sixth out of eight, Sill shone once again, claiming the individual title with a two-day total of 152. Finally, the Jeffs surprised many by tying the Ephs in the Little III Championship, the season’s final event, although the Ephs went on to claim the league title by virtue of a tiebreaker. Senior captains Ben Johnston and Alex Butensky will be missed, but Sill, as well as Nicholas Koh ’14, will be returning to lead the Jeffs next spring.
the ECAC Championships, placing fourth in the 10,000.
Photo courtesy of Niahlah Hope ’15
losses came by just one goal, meaning that they could easily have ended up .500 or better. Devin Acton ’14, the team’s captain and leading scorer, will be back to ensure that the Jeffs meet a better fate in 2014.
Outdoor Track and Field
Men The Jeffs started their season with strong showings at the Tufts Snowflake Classic and the AIC Invitational, both of which featured Div. I and II as well as Div. III competition. At the Little III Championships, the Jeffs edged Wesleyan to take second, and they followed this up with a middle-of-the-pack effort (sixth of 11) at the NESCAC Championships. Here, the Jeffs produced three allNESCAC selections: senior Andrew Erskine in the 10,000-meter event, fellow senior Pat Grimes in the 1,500 and Matt Melton ’14 in the 400, his third all-NESCAC honor in the event. The team also competed in the Div. III New England Championships (17th of 26) and the All-New England Championships (34th of 37). To close out the spring, Erskine led the men at
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013
With warmest thoughts and wishes on this day and every day. With warmest thoughts and wishes on this day and every day.
HAPPY GRADUATION Love. Mom, Dad and Dan
HAPPY GRADUATION Love. Mom, Dad and Dan
Congratulations Sarah Christensen! We are so proud of you!!
Continue to reach for the stars, Sarah. Love, Grandma Scott
TO OUR JBLIT! WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU. LOVE, MOM, DAD, AND JAKE
Congratulations to Chelsea Michta on her graduation. We are so happy for you, Chelsea, and proud of what you have achieved! Love, Mom & Dad
Christina Croak Congratulations!! We love you!! Mommy, Daddy, Justin & Dylan
THE AMHERST STUDENT: COMMENCEMENT EDITION MAY 24TH, 2013
HIGHLIGHTS Recapping five ways the Jeffs totally killed it this year:
By Emmett Knowlton ’15
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
In the final game to be played at Pratt Field (before renovations, at least), the Jeffs held off Williams to win the 127th installment of the Biggest Little Game in America, 23-20.
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
You’ve probably heard by now: the men’s basketball team comfortably beat unranked Mary Hardin-Baylor, 87-70, to capture its second Division III national championship and the program’s second title in the last seven years. When phrased this way, it all sounds sort of routine. But really, the Jeffs 30-2 season that concluded with 24-straight wins, a repeat NESCAC title and a national championship was far from easy. The Jeffs entered the season ranked fifth nationally and with high hopes, due largely to the return of 2012 NESCAC Player of the Year Aaron Toomey ’14 and NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year Willy Workman ’13. The squad certainly looked motivated early in the season, opening the season with four easy wins at home over non-conference opponents and taking the 12th annual Ken Write ’52 Memorial Invitational Tournament in the process. But despite a perfect November, the Jeffs stumbled twice in the first week of December. On Dec. 1, the Jeffs fell to Springfield at Westfield State, 7064, before losing to Babson on Dec. 6, 78-70 — their first loss of their home court in 35-straight games. While one could very easily point to Toomey’s absence against Springfield with an ankle injury and Babson’s 12 triples and 54 percent shooting from the field as excuses for the Jeffs rough December week, perhaps the best thing to say about these two skids is that they sparked an important refocusing in what was perhaps an overly-confident Amherst squad. In the team’s next game, at home versus Brandeis, Toomey eclipsed the 1000-point barrier for the Jeffs and senior center Pete Kaasila netted 21, as the Jeffs won by 10.
And from there it seems the team never really looked back. The Jeffs entered the new year with eight-straight NESCAC games, a grueling stretch in an ever-competitive basketball conference. After routing Wesleyan and Conn. College on the road, the Jeffs faced their biggest test in Hamilton. Down 77-73 with 1:16 to play in regulation, Amherst closed out the game on a 6-0, four of which came from Kaasila, including a gamewinning layup with two seconds remaining. Winning 79-77 to improve to 12-2 (3-0 NESCAC), the Jeffs raced to 10 more wins, all by double-digit margins. But it seems that the Hamilton game — a game overlooked as more late-game heroics would ensue (we’re getting there, be patient) — could very well have been another turning point for the Amherst ballers. Think about it. If the Jeffs hadn’t closed the game out so strongly and fallen to the Continentals, then they’re 11-3. Still dominant, yes, but more importantly it would have put them just 2-1 in the NESCAC without having yet faced stronger Williams and Middlebury. One has to wonder, then, the importance of Workman’s two made free-throws to tie the game at 77 and Kaasila’s post-up-to-lay-up move that barely beat the buzzer. The Jeffs next biggest test, and undoubtedly the most thrilling game of the team’s season, came at Pepin Gym in Middlebury, Vt. on Feb. 12. You may have heard about this 3OT thriller — or even seen Workman’s gutsy play on SportsCenter’s Top Plays — but if not, here’s what happened. Amherst seemed in control of the Panthers early in the second half, building a 14-point lead early in the second half despite Toomey’s cold
shooting night. But Middlebury came roaring back in front of their rowdy crowd to take the lead in the final moments of regulation. In regulation it was Kaasila, again, who nabbed a crucial bucket, putting the Jeffs up one. Middlebury’s Joey Kizel was fouled on the ensuing possession (the last of the game), having the chance to win it at the line, but he could only knock down one of the free-throws and so the game went to OT. The first OT ended tied at 81 apiece. With five seconds to play in the second overtime, the home side took a 91-88 lead. Racing up the court as the clock ran out, Workman was intentionally fouled before he could shoot, putting him at the line for two, rather than three, shots. The Northampton native and twoyear Amherst captain buried the first, before very quickly intentionally missing the second, catching Middlebury off-guard as he grabbed his own rebound and buried the put-back as the clock expired. Again, one has to imagine how different the season would have turned out for the Jeffs if Workman hadn’t executed this so impeccably. In the third overtime, Toomey reminded everyone why he was the NESCAC player of the year and preseason All-American, crossing over his defender before stepping back and drilling the game-winning three. Swoosh. After securing the top-seed and home-court advantage for the NESCAC tournament, the Jeffs cruised to the finals, where they met Williams for the third time that season. Williams, who’d knocked off Middlebury in the semis, came ready to play and nearly stole the title from Amherst, if not for a game-ending block from
senior guard Allen Williamson. Williamson, who’d been solid all season, seemed to really come into his own from this point forward, and would be the driving force for the Jeffs in the NCAA tournament. Ranked second in the country entering the Big Dance (Div. III, but still), the Jeffs earned a first-round bye before cruising to Salem, Va., for the Elite 8. In the NCAA Quarterfinals, the Jeffs dominated Cabrini, 101-82, and then eked past North Central 5244 in an ugly, defensive battle. For the finals, the Jeffs traveled to Atlanta to play at Philips Arena (home of the Atlanta Hawks) along with the Div. II and Div. I finalists. In the finals against Mary Hardin-Baylor, the Jeffs raced out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back, securing the title with an 87-70 win. Williamson led the way for the Jeffs, netting 18 to go with his six rebounds. Williamson earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the tournament, averaging 17.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in the Final Four. It was, by all accounts, a spectacular season and as good as it could get for the Amherst men. Toomey and Workman were both named to the d3hoops.com first-team All-American squad, while Toomey also earned a spot on the NABC All-America team and was named Northeast District Player of the Year and NESCAC Player of the Year for the second year in a row. While the Jeffs will certainly miss their trio of seniors, they have to think that Toomey’s senior season could be one for the ages. That, plus the breakout rookies season of Connor Green and Ben Pollack mean that big things are certainly in store for the Jeffs next year and in years to come.
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
▶WOMEN’S SWIMMING The Amherst women’s swimming and diving team stunned Williams at the NESCAC Championship to win the program’s first-ever NESCAC title. The win also ended Williams’ 12-straight title streak.
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
The Jeffs wrapped up their undefeated season with a 2-0 victory over Williams on the Ephs home pitch. The title marked the men’s soccer team’s second-straight NESCAC title.
Photo courtesy of Niahlah Hope ’15
▶WOMEN’S BASKETBALL The women’s basketball collected its fourth-straight (yep, fourth) NESCAC title this season, and also earned its fifth-straight (yep, fifth) trip to the NCAA Final Four.
MVPs: The Best of the Jeffs Of the many successful seniors, these Jeffs shined the brightest
Senior striker Spencer Noon earned first-team All-American honors this season. Noon is the program’s all-time leader in points (117) and goals (49). For the fourth-straight season, Geneva Lloyd earned first-team All-NESCAC honors in ice hockey. The defenseman also was named first-team All-American and runnerup for the Hurd Award, awarded to the country’s best player. Cross country superstar Keri Lambert won NESCACs and Little IIIs and took third at Nationals. Oh, and a spot in Sports Illustrated‘s Faces in the Crowd.
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
Fred Shepard threw a complete game shutout and the Jeffs sluggers scored seven runs as the baseball team beat Wesleyan, 7-0, to win their first NESCAC title in eight seasons. The next weekend, the Jeffs topped Rowan 10-8, to win its first NCAA game since 1999.
The Amherst Student: Commencement Edition May 24th, 2013