VOLUME CXLIII: COMMENCEMENT EDITION
FRIDAY, M AY 23, 2014
Photo by Olivia Tarantino ’15
THE INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER OF AMHERST COLLEGE SINCE 1868.
Schedule Events of
FRIDAY, MAY 23-SUNDAY, MAY 25
1:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Check-in Alumni House
8:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Check-in Alumni House
8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Reception Center Open Alumni House
5:00 p.m. Commencement Rehearsal Main Quadrangle (Johnson Chapel in case of rain)
9:00 a.m. Phi Beta Kappa Meeting Stirn Auditorium
10:00 a.m. The 193rd Commencement Main Quadrangle (LeFrak Gym in case of rain)
10:00 a.m. Baccalaureate Service Johnson Chapel 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Conversations with Honored Guests Check Website
Post-Commencement Luncheon Valentine Quadrangle
12:30 p.m.-2 p.m. Luncheon Valentine Quadrangle 1:00 p.m. Sigma Xi Meeting Lewis-Sebring Dining Commons 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Conversations with Honored Guests Check Website 3:15 p.m.-4:15 p.m. Conversations with Honored Guests Check Website 4:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m. President’s Reception Garden of the President’s House 9:15 p.m. Choral Society Concert Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center
2 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • MAY 23, 2014
STAFF EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Brendan Hsu, Emmett Knowlton HEAD PUBLISHER Nazir Khan EDITORS Clarice Carmichael, David Chang, Marie Lambert, James Liu, Sophie Murguia, Sitina Xu, Nicole Yang CONTRIBUTORS Ethan Corey, Elaine Jeon, Jessie Kaliski, Margaret Kiley, Tom Kleyn, Andy Knox, Elaine Vilorio PHOTOGRAPHER Olivia Tarantino 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) 5422304. 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.
Table of Contents SENIOR PROFILES
7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 22 23 24 25 26 27
Josh Wren An “Inimitable Genius” Takes a Final Bow Carlos A. González Student, Professional, Friend with Drive Avery Stone Carved in Stone: The Story of an Advocate Emeka Ojukwu The Busiest Role Model You’ll Ever Meet Naomi Bates Gaining Her Confidence Stride by Stride Meghna Sridhar The Joyful Mind of a Campus Anarchist George Tepe The President Also Plays the Trombone Liya Rechtman Activist Leaves More than an Echo Kimberly Bain Save Room on the Book Shelf for this Author Brianda Reyes A Life-Long Dreamer Finds Her Voice Chris Finch The Goldfinch: A Hockey-Playing Scientist Matt DeButts An Empathetic Listener Leaves His Mark Andre Wang A Curtain Call for the Dancing Activist Aaron Toomey Four-Point Play: Toomey’s Tenure in Purple
OTHER CONTENT PAGE
Fulbright & Watson Scholars
A Year in News
A Year in Sports
MAY 23, 2014 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • 3
Fulbright & Watson Scholars FULBRIGHTS LUCA ANTONUCCI Music major and Fulbright recipient Luca Antonucci plans to spend the next year in Austria teaching English and studying the conducting practices of Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg. As an aspiring conductor himself, Antonucci ﬁrst became interested in Schoenberg when he studied abroad in Vienna and found himself immersed in the Austrian’s work. Attending performances in the same halls where Schoenberg himself once sat, Antonucci developed a new connection with with Schoenberg, particularly in his oft-overlooked career as a conductor and performer.
THEA GOLDRING Thea Goldring will spend next year with the Fulbright Fellowship combining her art and chemistry majors in an in-depth study of nineteenth-century French stained glass restoration techniques. With ﬁve years of experience in art conservation at museums from the Mead to New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Goldring found the perfect mix of her academic and aesthetic interests in the ﬁeld of historical art restoration. Her work in France will be guided by a leading stained glass expert at the Université Paris IV-Sorbonne and will focus on restoration techniques during the 19th-century Gothic Revival. Outside of academia, Golding hopes to use her skills to beneﬁt the wide
art community by volunteering with French heritage preservation projects outside Paris, particularly with the international organization REMPART, which works to conserve and protect historical sites and national monuments. Upon returning to the U.S., Golding plans to enroll in graduate school for professional training that will allow her to further engage with the artistic community. “I hope to practice conservation and pursue research in a museum conservation department or university setting, and to make a contribution to art historical scholarship by bringing art and science together,” Golding wrote in her Fulbright application.
CASSANDRA GROSS Cassandra Gross, a neuroscience major interested in the intersection of Eastern and Western medicine, will be working as an English Teaching Assistant in Taiwan. As a half Jewish, half Chinese American, Gross has always seen herself at the crossroads between culture, and with her Fulbright Fellowship she hopes to further uncover the many cultures that deﬁne her through language. “Language is the tool by which I am connected to my community and family,” Gross wrote on her application. “A Fulbright ETA allows me to share this instrumental tool with Taiwanese students and guide them to discover
MANUEL GUERRERO A history major with a concentration in Latino studies, Manuel Guerrero will turn his focus to the other side of the globe as he travels to Vietnam next year as an English Teaching Assistant. Although he has always been interested in the history of the Vietnamese people, Guerrero’s academic specialization in Latin American history precluded his opportunity to take courses on the subject. Fluent in Spanish and trained in French and Italian, Guerrero is interested in the importance of language as a vehicle for culture. “Like my experience studying in Mexico, as a teaching assistant I would be able to learn directly from my Vietnamese students and the larger community
From her roles as a clinical research assistant in Massachusetts General Hospital to a public health intern at Udaipur, India, Amber Khan has always been attracted to opportunities that involve public health across a variety of countries. As a Fulbright Fellow with an English Teaching Assistantship in Turkey, Khan is ready to continue her discovery of how health eﬀects community while teaching English and absorbing the dynamic culture of Turkey. In fact, Khan states on her application that she “can ﬁnd no culture more enthralling for immersion than Turkey given its cultural landscape, youth demographic, and complex dynamic of Islam and secularism.” Given Khan’s
Katrin Marquez has seven years of teaching and tutoring experience and will continue that experience as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in South Korea. As an Asian languages and civilizations and political science double major, Marquez’s interests lie not only in the institutional workings of a country, but also its cultural inﬂuence upon other countries. “I have immersed myself in the study of Japanese language and East Asian popular culture. In doing so I have learned that the history of the region is not the isolationist myth I learned in the ninth grade world history, but rather a complicated tale of cultural exchange among the countries of the region,
4 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • MAY 23, 2014
their own connections through language.” Gross started her study of Chinese at the introductory level her ﬁrst year at Amherst in an attempt to uncover her roots and continued her study of language for all four years. She also has previous experience teaching English in Hong Kong and credits her experience teaching swimming and being an RC as providing her with direct experience of creatively teaching. In addition to teaching, Gross hopes to absorb the intersecting ideologies of Eastern and Western medicine. She plans on attending medical school after her fellowship and to infuse “Eastern ideologies of teaching compassion and practicing well-being into Western notions of health policy and education.”
in which I live,” Guerrero stated in his Fulbright application. Furthermore, he hopes that his students can learn more from him than just the English language: “I am looking forward to exercising my duty as a cultural diplomat to share all aspects of American culture with my students in Vietnam.” Guerrero believes that next year’s experience will be an indispensable asset in the future as he works toward a graduate degree in international relations. He plans to later pursue a career improving diplomatic relations between nations, either within an independent diplomacy think tank or the U.S. government.
Antonucci hopes to share his research as widely as possible, both as a teacher of English and as a participant in a variety of musical groups in Austria. As a peer tutor in music and German while at Amherst, Antonucci grew to love teaching as a means of sharing intellectual and aesthetic experiences with others. “My experience as a teacher, whether informally tutoring friends in counterpoint or harmony, teaching private trumpet students, or helping out in classrooms, has been immensely rewarding, educational, and simply fun,” Antonucci wrote in his Fulbright application. After completing the fellowship, Antonucci plans to pursue graduate studies in orchestral conducting and ultimately hopes to become a professional orchestral conductor and teacher.
unique background as a “South Asian Muslim growing up in a predominately Christian town in Texas,” she has been fascinated by complex cultures as well as how culture manifests as spoken dialogue. “I heard the soft Urdu spoken by my parents and grandparents at home, fell in love with French alongside my peers in the classroom, and diligently studied Arabic script every Sunday morning for many years,” Khan wrote on her application. “Each time I have engaged with language, it has been an opportunity to gaze into a culture.” As an English teacher, Khan will be able to share her love of language and exploration of culture with her students.
especially Korea and Japan,” Marquez wrote on her application. “Through these studies, I have gained a deep desire to understand how two countries at times so politically antagonistic toward each other can be so intimately connected.” While Marquez is going to Korea with only a limited knowledge of Korean, she plans to spend more than the required 100 hours honing her language skills in order to fully engage in dialogues with her host family about daily life and her co-teacher on South Korean pedagogical styles. Marquez greatly looks forward to her Fulbright year: “I have high expectations for my work during the assistantship, which means it will not be easy.”
LAURA POOLE Computer science and mathematics double major Laura Poole will spend next year working as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in India. In 2011, on her ﬁrst day of a two-week backpacking trip to India, Poole instantly fell head over heels in love with the country. “My experience in India was life altering due to the nation’s inspirational culture, rich history, varied sights, and, most memorably, the kind citizens I was fortunate enough to meet,” Poole wrote in her application. “I am incredibly eager to return to experience the culture as more than a tourist, develop language skills and give back to the population that welcomed me so warmly.” During her time at Amherst, Poole has worked as a teacher in a variety
NICK SCHCOLNIK Nick Schcolnik was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant fellowship to Argentina. The Chicago native cited both previous teaching experience in Spain and an “eagerness to share and partake in Argentine culture” as his main desires in pursuing the fellowship. Schcolnik, whose father is Argentine, wrote in his application about the diﬃculties of checking the box that most accurately described him during a standardized test in eighth grade. “At odds in my mind were the seemingly contradictory facts that I was white and yet had a father from Argentina — a country that I recognized fell into the ‘Latino’ category. What, if anything, did the fact that I had a father from Argentina say about me? And, if it did mean something, did it mean that I
was Latino?” An interest in further exploring his identity led Schcolnik to a double-major in Spanish and annual participation in the Amherst Spanish Department play; it has also, now, led him back to Argentina for the Fulbright. While in Argentina, he hopes to join a sports club to immerse himself in the culture and spend time with people his age. Schcolnik plans to go to law school upon returning from abroad, and plans to work in a law ﬁrm or with law students in Argentina, too.
CHELSEA TEJADA Growing up as a Spanish-speaking Colombian-American, Chelsea Tejada was often called upon to serve as a mediator between cultures. Next year, she’ll continue to do just this when she travels to Brazil as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. A sexuality, women’s and gender studies major, Tejada plans to volunteer at a local women’s shelter and participate in the region’s LGBTQ community, on top of teaching. Not only will this allow her to get to know and speak with locals, it will also help her contribute to the local community. Tejada has served as both an English teacher and dance instructor and has tutored local girls through Girls Inc. Last summer, teaching French-based
DYLAN VASEY Richmond, Va. native Dylan Vasey will travel to Morocco next year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. The black studies and history double major wrote in his application that “teaching in new places has repeatedly shown me the value of learning about a culture by trying to making my own comprehensible to others.” The Fulbright ETA fellowship will help Vasey expand on earlier teaching experiences in Mississippi and France, and the unique crossroads of interaction between Europe and the Middle East that Morocco oﬀers will help Vasey bring a “more global perspective back to my own country.” At Amherst, Vasey’s experience has ranged from tutoring music to cap-
of areas. She’s taught swimming, served as a teaching assistant in the Computer Science Department, taught and tutored local middle schools through the Vela Scholars Teaching Program at Amherst Middle School and spent a summer in China teaching English, to name only a few. Her experiences both in and out of the classroom have fueled Poole’s desire to teach English abroad for several years, and she hopes that her year as a Fulbright ETA she can pass on the wisdom that “the power to change the world lies in our hands.”
ballet in English to Mandarin-speaking Chinese students gave her an “unexpected foray into the challenges and joys of teaching and communication,” Tejada wrote in her application. Traveling to Brazil in 2015 is particularly poignant to Tejada, given that it will be after the World Cup but before the Summer Olympics. “Working under the Fulbright as an English Teaching Assistant will allow me to foster cross-cultural communication and understand, two things necessary for the success of those events, and a fundamental part of the nation’s future in a globalized world,” she wrote in her application. Upon returning from Brazil, Tejada plans to pursue a career as a sexual health educator.
taining an intramural soccer team to interning at the Emily Dickinson Museum. Over the summer, he served as a member of Mississippi Teaching Corps and worked as an English teaching assistant in France. While in Morocco, Vasey plans to make connections with members of the university community in order to understand intellectual life. He also hopes to spend time familiarizing himself with Moroccan music, as it has a very distinctive history from the majority of Western classical and popular music. He may even learn to play a new instrument. Upon returning from his Fulbright, Vasey plans to enroll in a Ph.D. program and eventually teach at the university level.
WATSONS GUS GREENSTEIN Gus Greenstein was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for the 20142015 academic year. The award fully funds a year of independent study and travel for a self-designed project. His project, entitled “Hydropower-Induced Displacement and Livelihood Eﬀects: Where Speciﬁc Places Warrant Speciﬁc Restoration Strategies” will send him to India, Chile, Paraguay and Thailand to further explore the eﬀects of hydroelectric dams in relation to sociocultural, economic and political systems. “[T]he Watson represents the perfect vehicle for exploring the extent of the consequences … and, more generally, for increasing my awareness of the challenges to crafting policy that balances development goals with environ-
MEGHNA SRIDHAR Meghna Sridhar, a law, jurisprudence and social thought major from New Delhi, India, received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for the 2014-2015 academic year. Sridhar will explore the worldwide popularity of the Sanskrit epic “Ramayana” in Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Italy and South Africa through her project, entitled “Retracing Rama’s Journey: Mapping the Hindu Epic Ramayana as Global Tradition of Mythmaking and Storytelling.” Sridhar plans to explore the distinct versions of “Ramayana” in each country and their sociopolitical roles, eventually putting together her own version. In her Watson application, Sridhar wrote her ultimate goal of the project is “to gain a sense of what both the ‘Ramayana’ is (through perfor-
mental and social well-being,” Greenstein wrote in his application. “In exploring this [issue] in diverse contexts, I will be able to gain a more complex understanding of the kinds of community-speciﬁc characteristics that necessitate highly individualized attention in compensation planning.” Originally from Santa Rosa, Calif., at Amherst Greenstein majored in environmental studies and was the captain of the men’s cross country team. During his junior year, Greenstein spent a semester in the Brazilian Amazon, where he furthered his interest in the impacts of hydroelectric dams, and according to his application, “developed a mango addiction.” Gus is eager to hang his hammock in increasingly stranger places while pursuing a deeper understanding of the challenges in crafting development policies that are both environmentally-eﬀective and socially-attentive.
mance, translation and art) and what it means to the people of each culture and community.” She added: “My ‘Ramayana,’ growing up, has not been a static 24,000-verse poem in an ancient tongue, but a living, breathing narrative encountered through festivals, grandmother’s tales and street plays. I want to unpack, untangle, and weave together all these divergent ‘Ramayanas,’ and at the end of my journey, produce my own. I wish to put myself in a unique position to understand, translate and craft a new ‘Ramayana,’ a global, multicultural retelling suited to the modern age.”
MAY 23, 2014 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • 5
Honorary Degrees Nate Silver Statistician & Writer Nate Silver is editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight, an ESPN news website structured around data journalism and statistical analysis. Silver earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Chicago and studied at the London School of Economics. A baseball fan as well as a skilled statistician, Silver designed the Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm (PECOTA) to forecast the career development of Major League players. In 2008, he gained recognition for correctly predicting results of the U.S. presidential election in 49 states, as well as the winners in all 35 U.S. Senate races that year. FiveThirtyEight has been named “Best Political Blog” by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which earned him Webby Awards in 2012 and 2013. He is the author of several books, including a New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2013 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science.
David Brooks New York Times Columnist David Brooks is a New York Times op-ed columnist and frequent contributor to the PBS NewsHour, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and The Diane Rehm Show. Brooks graduated from the University of Chicago in 1983 with a degree in history. He went on to work for some of the biggest national news outlets, including National Review, The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard, and has been published in a variety of other publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Times Literary Supplement, Forbes, The Washington Post, Commentary and The Public Interest. Brooks was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010 and is the author of several books, most recently “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement.”
Cullen Jones Olympic Medalist & Philanthropist Cullen Jones is a four-time Olympic medalist and professional swimmer. After learning to swim at age ﬁve, he excelled in the sport and eventually earned a scholarship to North Carolina University, where he became an English major and NCAA national champion. In 2006, he turned professional and went on to set records and medal in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and the 2012 Olympics in London. Outside of competition, Jones works as an advocate and philanthropist. He strives to bring diversity to his sport through the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative and Speedo’s Learn to Swim program, which teaches a new generation of urban children to swim safely. Last year, Jones founded the Cullen Jones Diversity Invitational, a youth swim meet with more than 500 participants that focused on competition, education and fundraising.
Sarah Sze Multimedia Artist Sarah Sze is a contemporary artist whose work encompasses a variety of media, from found objects and photographs to living plants. Combining elements of painting, sculpture and architecture, Sze explores the connection between objects and contemporary life through her large-scale installation projects, which often bisect walls and stretch across museums. Sze graduated with degrees in architecture and painting from Yale University in 1991 and received her MFA from New York City’s School of Visual Arts. A MacArthur Fellow and Radcliﬀe Institute Fellow, Sze won international awards for Best Project in a Public Space for her installation on New York City’s High Line and was the United States’ representative for the Venice Biennale in 2013. In addition to her creative work, Sze gives lectures at both of her alma maters and currently teaches at Columbia University School of the Arts.
Thai-Hi Lee ’80 Tech Company President & CEO Thai-Hi Lee graduated from Amherst College’s ﬁrst fully coed class in 1980 and in 1985 became the ﬁrst Korean woman to earn her MBA at Harvard Business School. Lee is currently the president and CEO of SHI International Corp., a global provider of information technology software, hardware and professional services. Since Lee and her team initially purchased a division of the company in 1989, it has transformed into a $5 billion corporation. Lee received an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Award for New Jersey as well as an Alumni Achievement Award from Harvard Business School. She is a member of the board of directors of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea and served as a term trustee of Amherst College from 1993 to 1999 and Alumni Council president from 2004 to 2005.
Jide Zeitlin ’85 Trustee & International Investor A graduate of Amherst and Harvard Business School, Jide Zeitlin is a trustee emeritus of Amherst College. For almost two decades, Zeitlin has served on every board committee available and even chaired the Budget and Finance Committee. As chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2005 to 2013, he played a leading role on two presidential search committees and worked with alumni to raise $425 million for Amherst’s Lives of Consequence campaign. Outside of Amherst, he is a private investor, currently focused on energy and life science investments in Israel, the United States and several countries in Africa. Zeitlin also seeks to give back to the community through his service on a number of nonproﬁt boards, including those of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Harvard Business School, Playwrights Horizons and Teach for America. Images (clockwise from top right) courtesy of rationality.org, mccallie.org, greatblackspeakers.com, Harvard Business School, Amherst College, Office of Public Affairs, fabricworkshopandmuseum.org
6 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • MAY 23, 2014
Yasuo Sakakibara (1929-2013) Scholar & Transportation Expert Yasuo Sakakibara attended Amherst College as a special student in 1954, studying English, economics and American history and literature. Upon returning to Japan, Sakakibara was appointed to the Economics Department of Kyoto’s Doshisha University. An authority in transportation economics, he led the planning for Kansai International Airport near Osaka, which opened up the region to direct international ﬂights and increased its economic connection to the rest of the world. Sakakibara was also central in creating the ﬁeld of American studies in Japan, founding an interdisciplinary graduate program at Doshisha University and acting as the program’s ﬁrst dean.
JOSH WREN • PROFILE
An “Inimitable Genius” Takes a Final Bow Wren lives and breathes as a performer, and whether reciting lyrical poetry in the elevators of Frost or interpreting Freud through dance, all the world is his stage. —Ethan Corey ’15 The house lights in Holden Theater go down as Josh Wren enters stage right, dressed in a sharp-looking toupee, white Oxford shirt, black slacks and a professional tie and carrying a large brown briefcase, crossing to the opposite corner of the stage. He sets down the briefcase and begins to slowly move in a mechanical, puppet-like fashion across the stage as if his movements were being controlled by invisible hands. He meanders erratically across the stage for several minutes, occasionally falling to the ﬂoor and picking himself back up. Eventually, he exits stage right, and the theater falls silent for nearly half a minute as the audience stares blankly at the scene, trying to process what they just witnessed. *** Wren, a theater and dance major who transferred to the college in fall 2011, often leaves those who encounter him with similar reactions. He’s a playwright, poet, actor, dancer and musician who lives life theatrically, taking Shakespeare’s observations about the world being a stage to a remarkably literal level. Wren’s friend and sometime bandmate Andrew Wang ’15 recounts his experience ﬁrst meeting Wren as a ﬁrst-year at the college. “Josh was a loud, long-haired dude who told me he was a transfer student. He told me he was part of an anarchist group that helps people transfer into good colleges to help take down the system. Not recognizing Josh as the multi-faceted vortex of words and ideas, that I know him as today, I took him at face value,” Wang said. Wren, as far as Wang knows, is not in fact a member of an anarchist group trying to take down the system. Sasha Smith ’14, a fellow transfer student who met Wren when she visited the college in 2012, calls Wren an “inimitable genius” along with one of her ﬁrst and closest friends at Amherst, praising his visceral cre-
ativity and passion for novelty and adventure. “Josh Wren is always in Character, with a capital C. He is a playwright of the self with the world as his muse. Playing a part forever in the making, he writes himself anew with each passing scene,” Smith said. Wren cites among his inﬂuences ﬁgures as diverse as Martin Heidegger, Eminem, Plato and Rage Against the Machine, combining a passion for the deep and philosophical with an ironic sense for the absurdity and ignominy of human existence. *** After the heavy silence, one member of the audience begins to tentatively applaud, perhaps under the mistaken impression that the performance has ended. Suddenly, Wren reappears on the stage, carrying a life-sized manikin in a chair. He sets it down in the upstage corner and begins to strip down to his underwear, placing his business clothes and toupee inside the briefcase and retrieving a dress and wig in their place. He puts the wig on the manikin and lays the dress in the middle of the stage, and then exits. The lights change to a intense shade of red, and Wren bursts through a small hole in the back wall of the stage, thrashing violently and wriggling his way onto the stage as loud industrial music plays in the background and fake blood pours through the hole. Wren slithers and crawls across the stage, “like an epileptic snake monster,” and ﬁghts his way into the dress. Then, he deliriously staggers across the stage and takes the wig from the manikin’s head, placing it on his own before turning to address the audience. Inhaling deeply through his nose, Wren recites: “Warm nickels — damp ashes — thirsty lips — quiet birds — lightning ﬂashes — storm trickle — moon eclipsed — empty words — MY EYES, MY SAD BEAUTIFUL EYES — ” Wren begins to lovingly caress
the manikin, cooing his lines into the manikin’s plastic ears. Wren takes the manikin in his arms and dances wildly across the stage — “you’re quiet tonight, my son, you haven’t sang Mama a single word, where’d your spirit go?” *** Wren’s thesis, “Wholly Man Again,” continues his explorations of the traumatic core of human nature. Depicting the sick, deranged relationship between a delusional son and mother — both played by Wren, with the help of a manikin (note the pun) — the play develops three of Wren’s favorite themes. “It’s about the diﬃculties of forming identity, expressed through psychoanalytic literary theory, idiosyncratic dance and lyrical poetry. Because those three things are super fucking cool. Whenever I see other people do them, I substitute them with me, and feel like I’m watching myself do it,” Wren said. “I like to shock and to be challenging, because I think good art does that.” And “Wholly Man Again” does just that. Liya Rechtman ’14, one of Wren’s close friends, called the play “beautiful and disturbing,” and lauding its creative approach to questions of gender, parenthood, childhood and the role of the audience. “I saw it twice and in the ﬁnal night, at the very end of the play, he made eye contact with me or ... just past me, in between me and the friend I was sitting with but I knew he was aware of me and he was including me in the piece. It was a very powerful moment and I felt uncomfortable, but uncomfortable in the way that he was pulling me out of my comfort zone and ask me to imagine something new,” Rechtman said. Wren says that his passion for exploring diﬃcult questions extends back to his childhood, when he would go on ﬁshing trips with his grandfather on the Chesapeake Bay and barrage him with unanswerable existential questions.
Photo courtesy of Josh Wren ’14
• Wren became a theater and dance major after transferring to the college in fall 2011. While at Amherst, he’s been a playwright, poet, actor, dancer and musician.
Photo courtesy of Josh Wren ’14
• After graduation, Wren plans to study dance with Movement Research in New York City. “I’d always ask him ‘where do we ty college and sought to become a go when we die?’ I just loved that teacher after he graduated. Howevquestion because I wanted to hear er, Wren arrived at the college full of diﬀerent responses to it every time. doubts and questions about himself And I’d always ask him, and he’d al- and his future. “At ﬁrst I was just really angry ways say the same thing, which was always a let down — he’d say, ‘well, and sad when I got here. I didn’t you go to heaven’ — but why? What know why I deserved to be here. I it started to do for me is that it got think a lot of transfer students go me in the habit of trying to ﬁnd oth- through that, honestly. There’s this er ways to ask the question or try to wide-eyed moment, because a lot of ﬁgure out how I could rephrase it to us don’t come from the money that ﬁnd out the thing I wanted to know.” a lot of people here come from that sort of makes this place what it is,” Wren said. *** After he took his ﬁrst theater Wren switches wigs and personas with the manikin, taking on the and dance course — Language of character of Jonathan, a delusional Movement with Roger C. Holden petulant man-child struggling to ’19 Professor of Theater and Dance break free from the manipulative Wendy Woodson — Wren said that he discovered a way to express and control of his mother. “Baby Bird all by himself in- explore the doubts and questions side his broken shell again, wail- that had been troubling him. “It changed my life. It gave me a ing-n-wailing in the wet blue dark like a witchy cat. Plucked not for vocabulary and it gave me a way to dancing like Mama Bird’s Manikin, express all these things that I really but I’ve learned how to dance now, enjoy thinking about,” Wren said. Since then, Wren has acted in Mama, I swear I’m here to dance you up a miracle, so bright; I’m go- two movies along with countless pering to be good, Mama, I promise, I’ll formances at both Hampshire and Amherst. act right — ” He also performs at open mics, Wren continues to switch between identities throughout the play, concerts and Marsh Coﬀee Haus on building up the tension between a regular basis, combining music, Mama and Jonathan until it ex- dance, poetry and acting to create plodes in a climactic scene of pas- unique interdisciplinary performacsionate copulation between Wren/ es. After graduation, Wren plans Jonathan and the Manikin/Mama, entitled “The Copulation of Illu- to head to New York City to study sion and Disillusion” in the script. dance with Movement Research, Thrusting his pelvis forcefully on top supported by funds from the Rayof the manikin, Wren’s voice ﬁlls the mond Keith Bryant Prize, which he shared with Patricia Cardenas ’14. entire theater: “THERE’S NO BONES IN- Wren hopes to build a career out of performance, cognizant of all the SIDE MY TONGUE — I’M NOT BLOOMING, BABY risks that such a path entails but eager for the challenge. BIRD IS UTTERLY ALONE “You have to make such a loud NO RAIN, NO WORMS, NO noise in order for it to pay oﬀ, which ROOTS, NO CONSUMING THERE’S NO BONES INSIDE I am ready to do. I think I have been preparing myself to do that at AmMY TONGUE — ” herst. I think my attention-hog per*** For Wren, his time at Amherst sonality is indicative of that desire, was one of personal growth and and I am ready to do it. Do I want to profound changes in his identity. be famous? Hell yeah, I want to be At community college in Essex, fucking famous!” Wren said. Asked where he saw Wren in ﬁve Maryland, Wren says that he was a “do-gooder” intent on saving the or ten years, Wren’s thesis advisor world through education. He was and dance professor Paul Matteson the president and founder of the gave only a one-sentence answer: multicultural club at his communi- “This question makes me happy.”
MAY 23, 2014 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • 7
PROFILE • CARLOS A. GONZÁLEZ
Student, Professional, Friend with Drive With unyielding determination, Carlos González has pursued his passions for Latino studies and social justice. —Elaine Vilorio ’17 The first thing that strikes you about Carlos A. González is his disposition. The man is personable. I remember meeting him in Val at the beginning of spring semester. Instead of cursorily shaking my hand, he got up from his seat and gave me a hug. We conversed with the ease of longlost friends. When I finally had to run to start my English paper, he gave me one final hug and we agreed to talk more soon. I would see González interact this way with others multiple times thereafter, whether he had just met them or not. González’s experience is not one we oftentimes put in the spotlight here at Amherst. He is a low-income, Latino transfer student who was undocumented until only a year and a half ago. He created his own major, one he believes the college is severely lacking. He has been nominated for summa cum laude. He gorges on political dramas like “Suits” and “House of Cards.” Ladies, he is the college’s (self-proclaimed) best bachata dancer. This is his story. COMING TO THE STATES When González was eight years old, his father passed away. The death hit his family hard, not only emotionally, but also economically. González’s mother had not gone to college, and for the next couple of years, their family lived off his father’s pension. Finally, there came a point when ends could not be met without sacrifice. González’s mother could no longer afford to send her children to private school, but she did not trust the Dominican Republic’s public school system, which had a reputation for being ineffective. However, González’s father had left the family with visas to travel to the U.S., visas that were going to expire soon. His mother had to make a choice: stay in their home country, where there was very little economic opportunity, or go to the States. She chose the latter, and in 2002, the family — González, his mother and his two sisters — relocated to Pennsylvania. EXCELLING IN HIGH SCHOOL Keeping in mind his mother’s efforts and his father’s memory,
González worked hard to become the best college applicant he could be. As a high school student, González participated in activities that involved doing what he loved most: working with people. He was in Model United Nations, the National Honor Society, Student Council and the Bi-County Youth Peace Council, an organization devoted to educating high school students about alcohol, drugs and abstinence. Still, González’s identity as an immigrant proved difficult, especially in a predominantly white, middle-class suburban school. “People always seemed surprised that I could speak good English. I was also told that I was different from the other Latino students because I did well academically. They were basically implying the other Latino students weren’t usually intelligent,” González said. Despite graduating in the top 10 percent of his class, González did not get accepted into many of the colleges he had applied to, and the schools that accepted him did not provide him with enough financial aid because of his undocumented status. “After I busted my butt, it was difficult to not be given an educational opportunity just because I was undocumented,” González said. Still determined to get ahead, González accepted a scholarship from Harrisburg Area Community College, Lancaster Campus. AN UNPLANNED OPPORTUNITY González thrived at community college, where he began to really explore his Latino identity. In addition to serving as student body president, he was heavily involved in his school’s Latino student organization. “It was there that I learned to be proud of my heritage. In high school, I was just trying to get out and be like everybody else,” González said. González interned with the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, during which he learned about the roles and needs of the increasing Latino population in Pennsylvania and the nation as a whole. In addition to this and similar community engagement po-
sitions, González worked under the table as an undocumented citizen and consistently took on an overflowing course load. Just like in high school, his goal was to get into a prestigious four-year college. Unlike in high school, he had grown wiser. He knew that only certain schools could accommodate him as an undocumented student. González had learned about Amherst through a Questbridge conference in high school, and he knew that the college accepted transfer students. But, more importantly, he knew that Amherst provided financial aid that could accommodate his current immigration status. He applied but was waitlisted. Hopeful, González called the admissions office and asked what could be done. “One of the assistant deans of admissions, Alexandra Hurd, told me that they hadn’t gotten someone off the transfer waitlist in years. I don’t know. I had this feeling. I told her, ‘That’s fine. I’ll see you in the fall,’” González said. A couple of weeks later, González got a call from the Office of Admissions notifying him of his acceptance. As I interviewed González, tears gathered in his eyes as he recounted the day he got the news. His mother did not know he had applied to Amherst. He wanted to surprise her. “My mom came home from work and I said, ‘What do you think about me moving to Massachusetts?’ She said, ‘Whatever’s best for you,’” González recalled. When he learned about the acceptance, González’s high school mentor and history teacher, Walt VanderHeijden, was delighted and unsurprised. “Speaking no English as a bewildered middle school student, living in a stateless limbo and suffering chronic financial deprivation, his journey has been one of unflinching focus on the vision of success, the belief in the triumph of hard work and the inherent goodness of people,” VanderHeijden said. Graduating as the valedictorian of his community college’s class, González headed off to Amherst in the fall of 2011. STARTING AT AMHERST
• González hopes ultimately to pursue public office in the Dominican Republic.
8 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • MAY 23, 2014
Photos courtesy of Carlos González ’14
• González wrote an interdisciplinary thesis in Latino studies. González was both excited and absolutely frightened to come to Amherst. “I did CEOT and I was just really scared. It’s a tradition to write a letter to your end-of-the year self and I remember writing, ‘It’s gonna get hard. You’ve got to work hard,’” González said. With the guidance of his mentors, including VanderHeijden and Associate Professor of History Rick López, González excelled academically. However, he was also concerned with life outside of academia. He immediately got involved with La Causa, the college’s Latino student organization. As La Causa’s junior chair and senior chair, he got to celebrate his ethnic identity with other students. His fondest memory of his time in La Causa was the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration, held in collaboration with the Spanish Department, the Spanish House and La Casa. SOCIAL JUSTICE In the summer of 2012, González interned at the Midwest Academy, a Chicago-based organization focused on community development. It was there that he first learned about the importance of responsible citizenship. González’s task was to lead residents of Brighton Park against a possible budget cut that would have eliminated funds for neighborhood violence prevention. “I learned that for a democracy to work, it has to have engaged citizens. Voting is important, but it’s not enough,” González said. Keron Blair, a trainer at Midwest Academy, recalls how dedicated González was to the job. “I have nothing but the best things to say about Carlos,” Blair praised. “He is absolutely one of the best interns I’ve had in my time as an organizer. It was clear from day one that he wanted to learn as much as he could during the program. His commitment to furthering human rights and social justice is evident in just a single conversation with him, and it’s remarkably contagious.” González was inspired to apply his newly learned principles of social justice to his own community: the Dominican diaspora. Knowing that most Dominican immigrants leave because of the socio-economic situation of Dominican Republic, González wondered to what extent the diaspora was involved in the country’s politics. His special topics course, Dominican Transnational Politics, served as the basis for this inquiry. Later on, the
special topics became his thesis topic. WRITING A THESIS González’s thesis identifies and explains clientalism in the Dominican diaspora. López, one of the thesis’s readers, calls it “outstanding.” “We unanimously nominated Carlos’s thesis for summa cum laude based on its depth of research, impressive critical analysis, original contribution to the literature and its integration of diverse disciplinary approaches,” López said. González made it a point to write his thesis through his self-crafted interdisciplinary Latino studies major. “I wanted to learn about a group of people crucial to U.S. history and culture. Latino studies is needed at this college and there’s currently discussion about its institutional creation,” González said. POST-AMHERST Immediately after graduation, González will be a participant in the Humanity in Action Fellowship — an intensive program exploring the origins and possible solutions for varying forms of discrimination. Within the next two years, González hopes to serve as the National Legislative Director for the United States Student Association, the largest student-led organization in the country. There, he hopes to continue working on making higher education accessible and affordable. He is currently a trainer for the organization. And ultimately, one day González hopes to pursue public office in the Dominican Republic. THE MAN REMAINS PERSONABLE While I have highlighted González’s many professional accomplishments, I want to end by again highlighting his demeanor as a person. Indeed, in spite of all that he has done, González remains caring and down-to-earth. One of his good friends, fellow senior Ana Lucia Murillo, summarizes González nicely. “I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding out about Carlos’s many academic accomplishments, successes as an activist, blah blah blah. Besides this, Carlos is also one of the sweetest and most sensitive people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in my years here. He loves unreservedly. He lets people know they are special and appreciated. It’s been a gift not only to see the work he’s done but to come to understand the many reasons why he does it.”
AVERY STONE • PROFILE
Carved in Stone: The Story of an Advocate Avery Stone embodies strength, courage and perseverance in all aspects of her Amherst life, both on and off the ice. — Margaret Kiley ’16 When questioned about her plans for the future, Amherst women’s ice hockey player Avery Stone offered, “I want to help other people convey their stories in a way that resonates with people no matter what the subject.” As an English major, collegiate athlete and advocate for the LGBT community, Stone’s story is one that certainly resonates with people. Her advocacy for gay and women’s rights has had an impact both on and off the college’s campus, serving as an impetus for change, equality and respect. The fearless ice hockey senior is one voice — albeit a powerful one — among many athletes, including Jason Collins, Michael Sam and, most recently, UMass basketball player Derrick Gordon, speaking up in an effort to bridge the divide between the LGBT community and athletics. While Stone has been unafraid to be herself and share her story with others, her advocacy has entailed its fair share of challenges, making her story all the more compelling. ADOLESCENCE A native of Providence, R.I., Stone grew up blocks away from Brown University’s campus. She began playing hockey in Providence at age six and joined a local team. After developing a passion for the sport at a young age, she decided to dedicate herself to the ice, traveling two hours every week to play for Aspit Valley, a competitive club hockey team. Coincidentally, many of her teammates at Amherst were also members of the Aspit Valley team. In my interview with the Amherst senior, she explained: “That was really when I started playing the sport seriously. It was an intense travel team with a demanding schedule.” As her skills on the ice and her intelligence for the game began to develop, she decided to commit herself further to the sport and began to attend United States Women’s Hockey national camps. While Stone’s identity as an athlete was firmly cemented, she began to question her sexual identity at a young age. “That was around the time I figured out that I was gay. I began to see
the connection between that identity and not being fully accepted on my club team. That was an interesting juxtaposition.” Despite the challenges of navigating her identities as a middle school student, youth athlete and gay person, Avery developed a love of hockey, a competitive drive and a courageous spirit that carried her through her careers at Phillips Andover and Amherst. ANDOVER Stone described her time at Phillips Andover Academy as life-changing, both personally and athletically. During our conversation, she reiterated several times how fortunate she feels to have attended such a diverse and accepting high school where she was exposed to a breadth of opinions and people from all around the world. The environment at Andover granted the Amherst senior with the confidence to come out to her family, friends and teammates as a high school junior. In a recent interview with the National Hockey League, Stone explained, “The people I met in Andover were just really nice. It was clear that it wasn’t just tolerated, but accepted to be different. That’s where I found my footing.” Stone further honed her talents as a female ice hockey player, playing for the team at Andover for four years. In addition to her career as an ice hockey player, Stone played field hockey and lacrosse and was a member of Azure, an a capella group at Andover. Her coaches, teachers and classmates at the prestigious boarding school surely took notice of her talents, as she was named captain of both the varsity field hockey and ice hockey her junior and senior years. In addition to being praised for her athletic talents, Stone was admired for her leadership and character. She was awarded the Wells Prize, an honor granted to a first-year who possesses loyalty, perseverance and sterling character. Additionally, she was the recipient of the Ayars Prize, an award given to a senior in a position of respect and admiration in the school community. While Stone participated in a number of teams, clubs and activities at
Andover, she was reticent about being an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community. “I wasn’t really involved in any sort of LGBT activism at all even though I was out my last two years, which is something that really changed at Amherst. I think that I purposefully didn’t involve myself even though I was out because at that point,” Stone said. “I didn’t feel like I really wanted or needed to say anything about it because I didn’t want to be pigeonholed as someone who was just gay and nothing else. And sometimes being here I still feel that way a little bit.” Although Stone was not as outspoken at Andover about women’s and gay rights as she has been at Amherst, she drew inspiration from a number of courageous athletes at Andover who served as voices for the LGBT community. She credits Andover for granting her with the security and confidence to speak up about issues of equality and respect. ADVOCATE When preparing to meet with Stone, I was most interested in hearing about what inspired her to be such an outspoken LGBT athlete. The Amherst hockey defender explained that upon her arrival at Amherst, she was one of the college’s only openly gay college athletes. “At Andover, there were athletes who were out, so I had those sorts of role models when I was young. And here, there weren’t as many. There weren’t none, but there weren’t a ton.” Equipped with the confidence she attained in high school from an environment of tolerance and acceptance, Stone sought to bridge the divide between the LGBT community and the Athletic Department. In our conversation, she described her experience as an openly gay LGBT collegiate athlete saying, “It was sort of like being a part of two different worlds, but falling somewhere in between them, so not totally being apart of either one.” The apparent juxtaposition between two key tenants of her identity inspired her to speak up and enact change.
• Stone (18) and teammates after the women’s hockey team’s annual Pink in the Rink game, which helps raise funds for breast cancer research.
Photo courtesy of Avery Stone ’14
• The Providence, R.I. native is involved in both the Fearless Project and the You Can Play Project. During her sophomore year at Amherst, Stone worked with the Pride Alliance to bring Jeff Sheng, the artist and photograph behind the Fearless Project, to Amherst. The Fearless Project documents “out” gay, bisexual and transgender high school and college athletes in an effort to enact equality and change. Sheng was inspired by his experience as a closeted gay athlete and like Stone, recognized the apparent divide between the LGBT community and high school and college athletics. On his visit to Amherst, the photographer shot five out athletes to be a part of the project. Stone, one of those athletes, cites this experience as one of her most rewarding as an advocate for the LGBT athlete. In addition to the Fearless Project, Stone has played a large role in the Patrick Burke’s You Can Play Project. The project’s mission seeks to ensure equality and respect for all athletes regardless of sexual orientation. Stone was encouraged by Amherst’s participation in the project, explaining, “I think the school has made a lot of steps in addressing how not just LGBT athletes, but all athletes are respected on this campus. I think the You Can Play video was a great step in the right direction.” On top of her involvement with Jeff Sheng’s Fearless Project and with Patrick Bruke’s You Can Play Project, Stone has been vocal with her own experiences pertaining to gay and women’s rights. She has openly shared her stories as a contributor to The Huffington Post and The Washington Post and at speaking engagements at colleges. Her story has even inspired attention from prominent media outlets, including The Boston Globe and the NHL. AMHERST HOCKEY In her four years as an Amherst women’s hockey defender, Stone has played a prominent role in the team’s success. Head Coach Jeffrey Matthews described Stone’s “never-ending enthusiasm, positive attitude and relentless effort in every practice and game” as among her defining traits as a hockey player and person. Matthews also praised Stone’s work ethic and flexibility, explaining, “she did whatever we asked of her. In her junior year, we asked her to play defense after playing forward the previous year, and her response was: “‘Wherever you need me, coach.’”
Stone perhaps best exhibited her grit and resilience following her ACL injury in the NESCAC playoffs during her sophomore year. Stone, with her characteristic “never say die” attitude, rehabbed her knee from complete ACL reconstruction and was able to play every game of her junior season. Assistant Coach Kate Beemer ’15 further elaborated on Stone’s resilience and positivity: “She didn’t miss a beat and remained positive throughout the process. Her ability to grow as a person and player through a turbulent time will serve her well in future endeavors.” While Stone admits that her time as an Amherst women’s hockey player has not been devoid of difficulty both on and off the ice, she looks back on her career fondly. In our conversation, Stone explained that she respects her teammates, appreciates her love of hockey and believes that the program will go in a really positive direction in the next few years. When asked for any advice for future Amherst athletes or Amherst LGBT athletes, Stone responded: “I would say love your teammates, always respect your teammates, be the best teammate that you can but don’t be afraid to make other friends.” ASPIRATIONS As an English major, Stone hopes to pursue a career in media following graduation. The senior has spent her summers away from Amherst working for major publications including Fortune, Self Magazine and The Huffington Post. Avery is fascinated with the ever-evolving nature of media and its prominence in the world today. She cites her career as a hockey player at Amherst as what equipped her with the tools “to navigate relationships with a bunch of different people in a bunch of different ways and to adapt to situations really quickly. That’s something that I’ll always thank my coaches and my teammates for is making me more versatile in that way.” Matthews expressed their faith in Stone’s bright future, explaining, “Avery is a courageous young woman with a big heart. We are proud of her and know she will do well beyond Amherst.” Stone has embodied strength, courage and perseverance in her career at Amherst and through her efforts to enact change: a true athlete by all definitions.
MAY 23, 2014 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • 9
PROFILE • EMEKA OJUKWU
The Busiest Role Model You’ll Ever Meet Emeka Ojukwu may be ready to take over the world, but he’s stopping along the way to share advice, expertise and a dash of “social capital.” —Jessie Kaliski ’15 In the classic movie “Dead Poet’s Society,” John Keating, played by Robin Williams, instructs his students to listen in on the wisdom of old poets, like Whitman or Thoreau: “Listen, you hear it? — Carpe — hear it? — Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day, boys, make your lives extraordinary.” In my past three years at Amherst College, I have met no one else at Amherst who embodies this phrase more than Udochukwu Ojukwu, better known as Emeka. A SUPPORTIVE ROLE MODEL Ojukwu attended high school at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee, a boarding school in the mountains of Georgia and credits Frederick, his older brother who also attended the same school, as a main source of advice and direction during those formative years. “I learned a lot from simply watching him and seeing the ways everyone else at the school regarded and respected the person who he was,” Ojukwu recalled. Similarly, Frederick recalls his experiences mentoring his brother as some of the most valuable moments in his life. “It was a very surreal feeling to be able to watch your brother grow from afar and help whenever help was needed,” Frederick said. “I will cherish those moments for a long time.” Little did Ojukwu know how lasting Frederick’s impacts would be and that later, he would act as an impromptu older brother for both Amherst and non-Amherst students alike. WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS... In eighth grade, Ojukwu’s worldview fundamentally shifted when his father was paralyzed in a car accident. “My biggest concern was no longer the pretty girl in class,” Ojukwu said. “It was who was going to help my dad in his day-to-day needs.” After the accident, Ojukwu realized not just how deeply his family impacted him as a person but also how pre-
cious each moment was. “My father and my family are the driving force for me. I obviously want to make my parents proud, but I also want to be grateful for being here and being able-bodied.” Since then, Ojukwu has been focused on finding the value in every situation, giving back to others and making every moment count. “A lot of my time here is just helping other people realize that they have more agency and power than they think they have,” said Ojukwu. One of his famous phrases is “when life gives you lemons …” and some, such as Danielle Dunkley ’14, have heard it more times than they can count. “One thing I can always count on Emeka to say [is] when life gives you lemons …’” Dunkley said. “I sometimes find it very annoying to hear him repeat it time and time again, but it reminds me to bring more light to the situation and think from a more promising perspective.” Indeed, Ojukwu has taken lemons and turned them into more than just lemonade; his dedication has proven to leave a long-lasting legacy. A DAY IN THE LIFE OF EMEKA In many ways, Ojukwu is like any other typical Amherst student: every moment of his day is packed with purpose. When I asked him to describe a typical day in his life, he laughed, and remarked, “a typical day depends on what job I am working.” His first year, Ojukwu had three jobs; sophomore year, four; and by senior year, six. Since his first year, Ojukwu has been a youth advisor in Holyoke for El Arco Iris, an afterschool program for elementary and middle school students. “I went during my freshman year and met this kid named Kermit,” Ojukwu said. “I got on my knees and said, ‘promise me that you will do everything in your power to get into college.’ Kermit was six or seven, maybe
• After six jobs this year, Ojukwu will take a job at Yale’s National University of Singapore after graduation.
10 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • MAY 23, 2014
eight, and he said, ‘Okay, can we go play now?’” Since that conversation, Ojukwu has been dedicated to Kermit, making sure he knew he had a supportive mentor who believed in him. However, he realized that making a promise was not enough — he had to make sure that Kermit, and other students alike, fulfilled that promise. “And so, through the ups and downs, I have been involved in this program for four years,” Ojukwu said. Besides El Arco Iris, Ojukwu is also involved with A Better Chance, the very group that helped him during his high school years. “It would have been crazy if I had walked away and not given back to an organization that gave so much to me,” Ojukwu said. So, he dedicates a few hours every week to give advice to the high school students at the ABC House — advice that he was fortunate enough to get from his brother when he was their age. And the mentoring does not stop there. Since sophomore year, Ojukwu has been a Telementor, an Amherst student who connects to high school students across the country to provide guidance and advice during the college application process. He now fills the role his older brother once held for him through the friendships he has developed with his advisees. Ojukwu helps Amherst students as well. You might find him in the Center for Community Engagement working in Engagement Advising, or as a Peer Career Advisor through the Career Center and maybe even at a party doing student security work, which he described as something “you hate when you are doing, but once you get the paycheck, you realize that is why you do it.” In fact, Ojukwu is quite proud of sticking with student security for all four years, long enough that now he gets his name on a plaque: “I am looking forward to walking past the Campus Police one day and seeing the plaque,” he said with a laugh. Besides his paid jobs, Ojukwu has also immersed himself in activities that are socially and creatively meaningful to him. During the second semester of his first year, he was encouraged by upperclassmen to run for Black Student Union’s junior chair and soon became the senior chair his sophomore year. He also joined a team in charge of revamping the Multicultural Resource Center and spent this past summer visiting schools to learn how other MRCs function. “Emeka helped get the MRC where it is today,” said Mariana Cruz, director of the center. “When I first met him, my first impression was that Emeka was committed to making Amherst College a more diverse and inclusive place for everyone and not just at
Photos courtesy of Emeka Ojukwu ’14
• Ojukwu is a sociology major, Peer Career Advisor and a member of student security among other jobs. this time, but for the future as well. He always comes into the MRC with great ideas, enthusiasm and initiative.” TIME FOR SCHOOLWORK Amidst all these commitments, Ojukwu is also a sociology major at Amherst. “I like dealing and talking with people,” he said. “I am not a science guy. The way society works and interacts with each other is more to my taste.” One of Ojukwu’s favorite instructors is Professor of Sociology Ronald Lembo, who showed him how sociology relates to the real world. One class he specifically remembers is a lecture on the misconceptions about teenage mothers. Sociology allowed him to see how other people’s realities are different from his own and one cannot simply say, “These people could do better.” “From the very first day in the introductory course,” Lembo said, “Emeka had a way of putting people at ease that’s quite genuine — and rare — among students. The phrase that comes to mind for me is a ‘generosity of spirit.’ In my experience, it’s something that’s just part of who he is and that he helps cultivate in those around him. I’ll miss that.” FROM AMHERST TO YALE Surprisingly, Ojukwu’s immediate plan after graduation is not to immerse himself in a thousand activities but to “go home and be a bum.” Even still, after a month of reading the Percy Jackson series or “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho and brushing up on a computer code he used in Professor Marisa Parham’s Girl Power course, Ojukwu will be spending the upcoming school year at Yale’s National University of Singapore. Interning either in the office of admissions or student affairs, Ojukwu will continue to help students make sure they are enjoying their college experience. “Deciding to do this was a tough decision due to my family situation. However, I got the blessing of my parents, and so to go abroad and have food and housing taken care of and work for Yale was too good to pass up,” he said. SOCIAL CAPITAL As a career advisor himself, Ojuk-
wu left me with some words of wisdom. He referred to it as the mantra he has lived by since freshman year of high school: “Do not allow yourself to be a complete book worm, and not engage in some type of activity, club or job. At the end of the day, you are not going to tell your possible employer, ‘studying for that chemistry exam was real rough.’ Rather, you want to show how much you have done as an individual, the responsibility you have taken on or what you’ve gained from working with a group.” Most importantly, Ojukwu emphasized the importance of taking advantage of the free resources around you: upperclassmen. In fact, he developed long-lasting relationships with the upperclassmen of Drew House in a very unusual way. “My freshman year, I needed to find a television to watch a basketball game. I came across Drew House and saw their television was not being used, so I sat on their couch and started watching it,” he said. This occurrence happened more than once, and as students started to join him, they would not only watch television, but would also share life stories and advice. “When I am around them, I am no longer the older guy. It’s a time where I can just enjoy the moment of having older people who have my back. My biggest worry is ‘Hey, who’s going to play me in FIFA?’” Besides meeting new people by welcoming himself into their common rooms, Ojukwu also pledged Chi Psi his sophomore year. “That was a great part of my college experience,” he said. “I was able to connect and make bonds with a lot of students that I would not have known otherwise. It was another important support group for me.” Even if you have never met Ojukwu, you can still benefit from taking his advice or what he calls his “social capital.” Ojukwu’s parting words of wisdom: “Develop your own circle of trust; a strong, supportive group of students. I was able to build that through the BSU, my fraternity, through my jobs and summer programs. This is what Amherst, or any college, hopes to create and wants to build. And we must consistently do that.”
NAOMI BATES • PROFILE
Gaining Her Confidence Stride by Stride Bates’ strong work ethic and dedication to track and field has given her the confidence to be the All-American captain and champion she is today. — Andy Knox ’16 In sports, success is measured by triumphs and defeats, elation and anguish. Throughout her four years at Amherst, Naomi Bates has experienced the entire spectrum of emotion on the track. Quite possibly the most successful track and field athlete in Amherst College women’s track and field history, Bates cites her humble beginnings on the track as a middle school desire to hang out with the boys of a local all-boys school. I think its safe to say that if Bates were to ask her middle school self, high school self or underclassman self how successful she would be on the track, none of them would ever guess that she would become an All-American with multiple program records. Nevertheless, Bates’ impact on the track extends far beyond her successes on the national stage. When asked to describe Bates’ impact on the program, her coach Elaine Zizza had a difficult time finding adequate words to describe what Bates has meant to the team. “I feel like I need to preface my answers to your questions by saying how difficult it is to put in words what a great athlete, competitor, teammate and person Naomi is,” Zizza said. “She is an incredibly hardworking, modest, conscientious and smart person. I don’t know if my words can do her justice.” BABY STEPS Bates was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and attended the prestigious National Cathedral School from fourth through twelfth grade. An avid athlete, Bates competed in a number of different sports including soccer, field hockey and cross country. It wasn’t until Bates reached seventh grade that she decided to try track. “I was really uncoordinated, so I just wanted to do yoga, but one of my friends convinced me to do track because we practiced with the boys’ school, St. Albans,” Bates said. However, Bates definitely didn’t learn her form or practice habits from her middle school track days. Her
coach from middle school taught her to long jump off of two feet instead of one, and training runs often turned into pancake breaks at friends’ houses. Her middle school track career didn’t lead her to believe that she would ever be a college track and field athlete. Even for most of high school Bates didn’t think that she would compete collegiately. It wasn’t until the end of her junior year that Bates began to realize that she had a future in track and field beyond high school. “I really started to triple-jump well, and then I realized that I could compete in college,” Bates said. GAINING HER STRIDE In a fitting fashion, Bates’ recruiting battle was ultimately decided between Amherst and Williams. She had her recruiting visits back to back, and although she really liked the Williams campus and most of the people she met there, she couldn’t see herself there. When she visited Amherst, she immediately felt at home. “It was a beautiful day, and all the people I met were really nice,” she said. Her arrival also signified a shift in the culture in the Amherst women’s track and field teams. With only three sprinters on the team prior to the class of 2014’s arrival, Bates and the other six sprinters in her class changed the entire outlook of the team. Whereas before the women’s team was made up mostly of cross country runners who also ran track, there was now a dedicated group of women who could help the team in shorter distance events. As the sprinting group got bigger and bigger, the women’s track and field team became a cohesive unit who supported each other through trials and tribulations both on and off the track. Despite two coaching changes, the group continued to grow closer and closer. It was that close-knit support that helped Bates achieve all that she has accomplished throughout her Amherst career. Yet, the beginning of her career didn’t get off to the start she wanted.
“I wasn’t PRing, and I felt like I was missing out on hanging out with my freshman friends and my friends in my dorm,” Bates said. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure if all the time I was spending at practice and at meets was worth it.” She had never run indoor track before her first year at Amherst, and she wasn’t used to running around a 200-meter track and competing so early in the calendar year. Like many other college athletes who expect to contribute right away and compete at a higher level than they did in high school, Bates was frustrated by her lack of success during her indoor season. Her low point came at the beginning of her first outdoor season when the combination of the cold weather and uncertainty of her position on the team made her feel lost on the track. It wasn’t until towards the end of her first outdoor campaign that Bates finally hit her stride and got her confidence back. At the Division III regional championships, Bates beat a personal best for the first time in college, completely changing her outlook on her track and field career. She realized that if she put more effort into training and refocused her priorities, she could achieve all of her goals. It was during that same season when Bates missed qualifying for the national championships by one hundredth of a second — a near miss that provided her with the motivation to train during the off-season to qualify for national championships the next season. That is one of the key attributes that coach Zizza noted as one of the most important factors in Bates’ success. “Although Naomi was born with talent and great instincts, she was the one that decided to be a champion and extraordinary competitor,” Zizza said. “She decided to show up for practice everyday on time, to warm up properly, to make her lifting sessions, to compete, to refuel, to rest.” During Bates’s sophomore season her coach sat her down and told her that if she believed in herself, she could accomplish more than she had
• ”Although I have seen incredible amounts of growth in Naomi in the past three years, the underlying factor that made all of it possible has been her gain in confidence,” said coach Elaine Zizza.
Photos courtesy of the Office of Public Affairs
• Bates is the women’s track and field captain who inspires with her drive and determination every moment on the track. even imagined. During that indoor Her success has continued this outseason, her distance medley relay team door season when she broke program reached nationals and placed one spot records in the 100 meters and long short of All-American. But the expe- jump. Complementing her indoor narience she gained through the trip to tional title in the long jump, Bates also nationals gave her the confidence to won the outdoor national title in the compete stronger moving forward. event. She is also set to compete in the After an outdoor season in which she 200-meter dash and the 4x100 meter consistently broke her own personal relay. records, she qualified for nationals in As she graduates, Bates leaves a the 200-meters. team with almost 15 sprinters, many After breaking through her soph- of whom consider her to be a mentor. omore year, Bates’ junior year was Still, Bates didn’t always have the conmarred by injury. The week before fidence to lead her teammates like she indoor national championships, she has these past two seasons as captain. badly hurt her hamstring. In hindsight, “Although I have seen incredible she believes that she shouldn’t have amounts of growth in Naomi in the competed because she was barely able past three years, the underlying factor to run. She wasn’t the same athlete that made all of it possible has been that qualified and it showed during her gain in confidence,” Zizza said. the championship meet. She wasn’t “She has always been very modest, able to utilize the same stride in the considerate of others, kind and aclong jump or accelerate as quickly as countable. Over her college career she she was accustomed to during the re- has also further developed into an inlays. The most discouraging part of credibly influential leader.” the injury was that it carried over into It is that confidence that her teamher outdoor season. Although she beat mates feed off of when they train and her personal best in the long jump by compete. the end of the season and managed to “It’s so inspirational to watch her qualify for the national championships, run fast every single race and conshe didn’t feel mentally ready to com- stantly break records,” said teammate pete. Victoria Hensley ’16. “Her drive and “I just wasn’t used to jumping un- determination motivates me to run my healthy, and didn’t compete as well as best every meet and to push myself to I would have liked. It was pretty disap- new heights. She has always been there pointing,” Bates said. to support us with our own goals, and it However, her final year has proved will be strange not to have her around to be her virtuoso performance. This the track next season.” winter, Bates traveled to nationals hoping to stay healthy and compete the CONTINUING TO LEAD way she knew she could. A national As Bates leaves Amherst her preschampionship and two All-American ence will be missed, but her impact performances validated all the sweat will be more widely felt as she heads and tears she had shed over the past off to teach for Teach for America in three seasons. After she surprised her- Baltimore. Because she attended both self by garnering All-American honors Amherst and the National Cathedral in both the 60-meter and 200-meter School, Bates realized how lucky she dashes, she won a national champion- was to attend institutions that gave her ship in the long jump. Going into the a great education, which is why she long jump, Bates thought she would be feels like she has a duty to help kids by an All-American but didn’t think she giving them the same kind of educawas capable of winning. She put up the tion she received. Although she doesn’t top jump in prelims and held onto her foresee teaching after she finishes her lead. As each of the top women took two-year commitment to Teach for their final jumps and didn’t beat her America, she is planning on continuing mark, she was overcome by emotion. her education in law school. With one required jump left, she saw Whatever Bates decides to do, it is her teammates and coaches huddled safe to say that she is going to approach around the pit ecstatically screaming it with the same kind of dedication and and jumping around waiting to con- work ethic that propelled her to be a gratulate her. star on the track at Amherst.
MAY 23, 2014 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • 11
PROFILE • MEGHNA SRIDHAR
The Joyful Mind of a Campus Anarchist Meghna Sridhar applies a critical mind to both academics and activism, all the while keeping a generous heart. — James Liu ’16 When I first met Meghna Sridhar, she was the managing editor of the opinion section of The Amherst Student. That year was one of the most exciting and tumultuous years for The Student, and I was fortunate to be a small part of it working with her. Although she soon left to study abroad at Oxford, upon returning she stuck around as a columnist, and I was often privileged to be one of the first people to read her opinion pieces. With her graduation, The Student will undoubtedly lose one of its most critical and insightful writers. But her contributions to the Amherst community extend far beyond the newspaper. As she leaves Amherst to travel the world as a Watson Fellow, Amherst bids farewell to a brilliant intellectual explorer, an unorthodox legal theorist and a courageous social critic. RADICAL RESTART Although born in Hyderabad, India, Sridhar spent most of her early life growing up in New Delhi. She attended a high school that sent few students to America, and Amherst College — a tiny liberal arts school located across the world in western Massachusetts — seemed an unlikely place to end up. Nonetheless because Sridhar wanted to double major, she needed to leave India for college and knew that a need-blind financial aid package for international students would be essential to make that happen. Amherst was one of the few schools that met such criteria, so there were practical reasons for going, but there were sentimental ones too. “Whenever I went to airports and saw people — young people — traveling by themselves, I had always wanted to be that person,” Sridhar said. “I liked the idea of going off to a different place, being independent, breaking off everything and trying to find a clean start.”
Nonetheless, as Sridhar well knows, where we start is rarely where we end up. “I started off wanting to major in economics … which is extremely hilarious to anyone who knows me now,” she joked. Many of us may spend four years without questioning our initial academic goals, but some of us are fortunate enough to encounter a class that compels us to not just learn the subject material at hand, but to also become aware of and take control of our own learning. Sridhar may have arrived at Amherst in the fall, but it was not until the spring of her first year, when she took Introduction to Legal Theory with Professor Adam Sitze, that her education really took off in earnest. “I first met Meghna way back in November 2010, when she visited me in my office to persuade me to let her take Introduction to Legal Theory as a first year student,” Sitze recollected. “I said yes, even though I had concerns that she wasn’t yet ready to take it — it’s a hard course, after all. But, as it turns out, in Meghna’s case it was the other way around: the course wasn’t ready for her. She did things you’re not supposed to do with canonical texts, and she succeeded wildly in her unorthodox approach.” For Sridhar, the class represented a radical restart to her education. “The things that I learned in that class allowed me to question a lot of the assumptions that economics was based on,” Sridhar said. “I started thinking more about politics, and the assumptions behind everything that drives our politics. The classes that I was taking — whether they appeared objective or not — actually all had their political bents, and I decided to start taking the ones — not necessarily the ones that I agreed with — but the ones that moved in the directions and under the assumptions that I cherished.”
• Sridhar’s mind is organized like a flash mob, “utterly spontaneous and joyful,” says Professor Adam Sitze.
12 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • MAY 23, 2014
ANALYZING ANARCHISM Sridhar wrote her thesis in law, jurisprudence and social thought on anarchism. She is well aware of the oxymoron of an anarchist law thesis and the contradictions that it entails. “It’s an interesting case to be in, being a law major, because anarchism is the way to completely dispose of the law,” Sridhar said. “My thesis examines what is the relationship between law and anarchism … Does the law become as violent as the anarchy it says will occur in its absence? Isn’t the law the very height of arbitrary violence, despotism and chaos that it says anarchism will bring to us? And if law becomes its opposite, does anarchism become its opposite too?” Writing a thesis about the end of law in a law department is audacious to say the least, but Sridhar confronted the intricate challenges of analyzing anarchism with a perspective that was both firmly grounded in intellectual rigor and uplifted by her effervescent passion. “For me, working with Meghna exemplifies so much of what makes Amherst College superlative,” remarked LJST Professor David Delaney, who was Sridhar’s senior thesis advisor. “First of all, she is brilliant. Hers is a delightfully creative kind of intelligence. And it is one that is firmly grounded, theoretically sophisticated and at the same time broadly informed by worldly interests and passions.” Yet, Delaney’s praise does not stop there. “I truly felt — and felt privileged to feel — that I was working with someone who will come to excel at the highest levels of scholarship,” Delaney continued. “But these characteristics are not what set Meghna apart. She brings such joy and enthusiasm to, so far as I can tell, whatever she turns her attention toward. What I’ll remember most clearly about my work with her will be those dazzling moments when probing some difficult theoretical perplexity met release in laughter.” WRITING WRONGS Sridhar was involved in The Amherst Student, in some shape or form, throughout her time at Amherst. “The Amherst Student gave me a way to be completely engaged with the Amherst community, but also from a really critical standpoint,” Sridhar said. “I was actively participating but also taking an external perspective, and I was able to understand it as a narrative, rather than being so immersed in it that you only see the protection of Amherst above all else.” In the fall of 2012, The Student published Angie Epifano’s “An Account of Sexual Assault at Amherst College.” Sridhar was managing editor of the opinion section at the time. “Reading that article at 6 a.m. before anyone else had and being completely horrified by it … the opportunity to be at the center of that when everything was happening really fired
Photos courtesy of Meghna Sridhar ’14
• “Sridhar is the college’s public intellectual, speaking openly on all issues of campus life and culture.”— Professor Umphrey up my political engagement with sex- and her mind is no different,” Sitze ual assault issues on campus,” Sridhar said. “It would be easy enough for a recalled. student of law and politics to organize Although Sridhar also served as her mind on the model of a hierarchichair of the AAS Judiciary Council, cally arranged courthouse, with higher her involvement in campus activism and lower faculties, judges of different increasingly distanced her from cam- ranks giving orders to each other and pus institutions. so forth. Meghna’s mind is organized “The semester that I was JC chair on the model of a flash mob: utterly was the same semester that all the sex- spontaneous and joyful, but no less coual assault protests broke out. Every- ordinated, structured and purposeful thing I did that was involved in those for that spontaneity and joy.” protests — which I still think is some And wherever she may go, she will of the most important stuff I’ve done at light up those around her. Amherst, even though you can’t write “Meghna’s energy, intelligence and it on a CV — came completely out- tenacity have always been her standout side, and probably against, my capacity qualities to me. She is a beautiful peras JC chair,” Sridhar said. “I become son with love for everyone who crosses more focused on what I could do out- her path,” said friend and housemate side the institution.” Maia Mares ’14. “She continuously During her senior year, Sridhar pours energy into friendships with peoused writing to right wrongs that she ple around the world, loyally keeping witnessed around her. Her biweekly those she loves close to her no matter column “Writing from the Left” criti- the distance.” cally addressed campus issues and had Even professors can feel her fierce a transformative impact on campus commitment to standing up for what culture and discourse. she believes and cares in. “She has taken on an important “Meghna’s real signature is her role as a public intellectual on cam- passionate, fearless and caring voice. pus,” commented LJST Professor Meghna is someone who listens to her Martha Umphrey. “She has written conscience, someone who just can’t thoughtful, clear-eyed critiques of stu- sleep at night if things aren’t right,” dent life and politics in The Student. Sitze added. “She’s not afraid to speak I sit on a strategic planning committee up for what she thinks is right, even if engaged with questions of co-curric- her dissent places her in a numerical ular life here, and her columns have minority and earns her criticism from been cited and discussed by the faculty, a numerical majority. I really admire staff and students on the committee as this in her.” we explore ways to enhance student Sridhar embodies an inimitable civic culture. In other words, her think- intersection of so many unique and ing makes a difference.” remarkable qualities: brilliant, unorthodox, courageous, compassionate are INIMITABLE INTERSECTION all words that come to mind. She, of Sridhar was awarded a Watson course, has her less remarkable qualiFellowship and will spend her year ties too, but even those merit mentionafter graduation traveling the world ing. researching the Sanskrit epic poem “What most people don’t realize “Ramayana” and its various manifes- about Meghna is that she has what is tations, with the ultimate goal of craft- surely the world’s largest collection of ing her own retelling of “Ramayana” kitschy GIF files,” Sitze joked. “Somein a modern setting. After completing times I’ll send her some quasi-formal her Watson project, the future is less email for which, foolishly, I expect clear, but Sridhar aims to go to grad- a quasi-formal reply, only to receive uate school, further her studies in (for example) a repeating image of an anarchism and eventually become a anime unicorn leaping for joy while professor — continuing her trend of throwing around rainbow sparkles going into law departments and talking that coalesce to form the word ‘aweabout why the law should not exist. some.’ In the Venn diagram formed Whatever she may do, she will un- by the sets ‘radical anarchist activists’ doubtedly excel, but moreover, she will and ‘collectors of kitschy GIFs,’ Meghexcel her way. na Sridhar is surely the only point of “Meghna has a rambunctious, overlap. Which is to say: she’s one of jubilant and courageous personality, a kind.”
GEORGE TEPE • PROFILE
The President Also Plays the Trombone Looking back on George Tepe’s four years at Amherst, just what hasn’t the econ-thesis-writing, trombone playing president done? — Elaine Jeon ’17 Student body president, economics thesis writer and soon-to-be graduate student at Columbia Law School … let me be honest: I was rather intimidated prior to interviewing George Tepe. But his animated character and charm quickly dissolved my preemptive anxiety, and Tepe and I ﬂitted from one topic to another, conversing easily. He was enthusiastic about everything we discussed, from his political career to the Federal Reserve, and I am now anxious, quite diﬀerently than before, that I won’t be able to perfectly capture his eﬀervescence. A TRUE “AAS NERD” As a ﬁrst-year, Tepe wanted to continue his participation in student government, which he enjoyed throughout high school. Since being elected as a ﬁrst-year senator, he has served as the Judiciary Council chair, Association of Amherst Students vice president and subsequently AAS president. “I’ve remained involved in AAS for four years because I think it’s fun,” Tepe said. “I love learning about how bureaucracy and institutions work. It has also given me the incredible opportunity to meet and serve students, administrators and faculty members.” Katarina Cruz ’17, an AAS senator, lauded Tepe’s ability to lead other senator. “Tepe encourages senators, especially the new ones, to take action and pursue the issues we want to tackle,” Cruz said. “He was always willing to discuss the feasibility of my ideas and helped me get in contact with the right people.” This year’s AAS Vice President Noah Gordon ’14 also praised Tepe’s devotion to the job. “While some people use leadership positions to pad their resumes or climb social ladders, it’s become clearer and clearer to me through the years that George is genuinely a caring individual,” Gordon said. “When he commits himself to a project, he will always see it through to completion — he’s one of the most competent and tenacious
people I’ve met at this college.” Out of everything the AAS has achieved over the past four years, Tepe talks most enthusiastically about the creation of the PEP station, located by Grosvenor House on Route 9. It charges electronic cars and mainly serves as the charging station for ACEMS vehicles on campus. “Cars were always near and dear to my heart,” said Tepe, a Detroit native. During his sophomore year, Tepe worked tirelessly along with his then-roommate Ian Hatch ’14 in order to initiate an environmentally conscious and sustainable method of transportation at Amherst. The duo’s project sparked from their shared interest in automobiles and eventually transformed into a yearlong collaboration that received $20,000 from the administration and another $40,000 from the senate. “The most rewarding part is seeing the parking spaces in front of the station,” Tepe said. “That was the whole purpose — by building the infrastructure, we hoped that it starts a trend of electric cars and that Amherst could be a leader in this green technology.” While working for AAS requires many hours in and out of meetings, Tepe said he ﬁnds every aspect of it enjoyable. His passion for student government exceeded any expectation when Tepe spent one spring break at home, rewriting the entire AAS committee structure from scratch, all for fun. He wrote by-law amendments and the jurisprudence of committee structure during a week intended for leisure. When he told me this and caught a glimpse of incredulity on my face, Tepe laughed and exclaimed he really is an “AAS nerd.” THE LAST TROMBONIST OF AMHERST Tepe’s passion is by no means limited to serving on the student government. In fourth grade, he began his lifelong journey with trombone. Throughout high school, he played
for the Detroit Youth Symphony Orchestra, which required demanding rehearsals every Saturday. Tepe said that Detroit youth orchestra opened his eyes to “real” music. He knew that at Amherst, he would choose orchestra over any other musical ensemble group because of his profound love for classical music, which naturally led to a four-year commitment to the Amherst College orchestra. “My freshman year was really exciting as there were two other trombonists from Amherst,” Tepe said. But no other trombone players have come along since I was a freshman. None!” Tepe added that every time he leads tour groups, he wants to personally recruit trombone players for the orchestra. Though he does not have a ﬁxed plan to continue playing the musical instrument after graduation, he hopes that someday he can pick it back up. Tepe’s involvement in the music world has motivated him to appreciate classical music, which he would have never interacted with had it not been for his orchestral experience. Now, he said his ears perk up whenever he hears familiar tunes that he has played before. DON’T MENTION THE FED. Tepe’s passion for economics — particularly the central banking system and the Federal Reserve Board — can be summed up in this quote: “I can talk about the economy for this entire interview, but I really shouldn’t. But I could.” Tepe’s interest in banking and monetary policies is rooted in Professor Geoﬀrey Woglom’s class, “Money and Economic Activity,” which he took his ﬁrst year. After working as a TA for the class the following years, he took a Special Topics course called Federal Reserve Challenge, again taught by Woglom. Woglom said that Tepe is one of his all-time favorite students, in large part due to Tepe’s persistent enthusiasm. “I love studying economics, and working with a student who shares
• Tepe (middle) stands outside of Frost Library, leading the “Rally to End the Culture of Silence” in October 2012.
Photos courtesy of George Tepe ’14
• After graduation, Tepe will attend Columbia Law School, where he plans to study ﬁnancial regulatory law. your passion is extraordinarily re- the fraternity’s members was found accountable for sexual assault but warding,” Woglom said. Because he couldn’t get enough of was housed in Chi Psi’s oﬀ-campus monetary policies and central bank- location, Tepe withdrew his fraternity ing, the economics major decided to membership. “I can’t emphasize enough that the write an honors thesis, conducting indepth research about the impact of resignation wasn’t political,” Gordon Federal Reserve Press Conferences on said. “George had very little to gain at the market. Despite the tedious nature this point, and in conversations I had of researching, Tepe ﬁnds that writing with him, I could tell that it was a pera thesis was a valuable experience — sonal decision. I’ve always admired his he said he enjoyed being able to “do” choice to sacriﬁce so much for what he thought was right.” economics. “I do not regret leaving,” Tepe “I think economics has been extra fascinating for me because of when I said. “And based on my experience came into it,” Tepe said. “In central of the past few months, I can attest banking, there are conventional and that fraternities at Amherst continue unconventional monetary policies. to harm individuals on this campus, Because I came into economics in myself included.” With the end of his Amherst years 2010, I have never known economics in conventional times. Recession, ﬁ- just around the corner, Tepe divulged nancial crisis … it was as if everything what he called a “dirty little secret.” “I almost went to Williams,” he I learned was on the news. For me, the unconventional has become the ‘con- said. Tepe said one of the reasons he ventional’ thing.” Tepe plans to continue pursuing chose to attend Amherst over the inhis passion in economics at Columbia famous rival school was to ﬁnd out Law School next year, where he hopes why everyone was so happy here. He said he believes he has discovered the to study ﬁnancial regulatory law. source of the happiness, or at least the OUTSIDE OF MEETINGS source of his own. “Everyone cares about the colAND CLASSROOMS Regrettably, I have only had the lege,” Tepe said. “I have been espepleasure of conversing with Tepe once, cially impressed about how much the with only three weeks to go until his student body cares about the institugraduation. But our hour-long conver- tion, especially when things are not sation, as well as the stories from his going the way they should be. I’ve witfriends and colleagues, was testament nessed a lot of student radicalism and enough to Tepe’s good-humored na- I want us to continue that. Students being passionate and demanding betture and charming character. Outside of the professional setting ter have made my job so much easier. of AAS, Gordon has forged a mean- I hope people after my class keep it up, ingful friendship with Tepe during stay passionate about issues that aﬀect them and not resort to silence.” their time together at Amherst. I’ll end this proﬁle of a “When you talk to him, he’s always engaged 100 percent in what you are more-than-impressive individual with saying,” Gordon said. “George is the words of Suzanne Coﬀey, the extremely friendly and honest. He Chief Student Aﬀairs Oﬃcer, who has doesn’t abide by the rule of ‘Amherst gotten to know Tepe well during his Awkward’ so often complained about time as AAS president. “If you follow George through a around here.” Gordon also praised Tepe for his typical day, I’ll bet he interacts with decision to resign from his fraternity dozens of people from many diﬀerent in December of last year. During the constituencies, building steam for varAAS presidential election, his mem- ious projects, spending time intensely bership in Chi Psi provoked debates focused on classwork, conjuring up about the extent of his fraternity thoughtful well-reasoned ideas to oﬀer brothers’ involvement in his campaign in multiple daily committee meetings as well as his ability to accurately rep- and still ﬁnding time to eat, sleep and be with friends,” Coﬀey said. “I have resent the student body. However, this year, when one of no idea how he does it.”
MAY 23, 2014 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • 13
PROFILE • LIYA RECHTMAN
More than just an Amherst “public figure,” Rechtman’s dedication to intellectual freedom and the campus community is a testament to a mind that is constantly evolving. — Marie Lambert ’15 One would be hard-pressed to find someone on campus who hasn’t heard Liya Rechtman’s name or a facet of Amherst life that she hasn’t touched. Through her vocal presence as an activist, a journalist and academic, Rechtman is unafraid to challenge norms and is never content to accept what is over what could be. Her passion and dedication to reshaping Amherst culture is unparalleled, and although future classes may not know it, the legacy she leaves behind will be lasting. PUPPETRY AND SATS A graduate of St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn, New York, Rechtman is no stranger to pushing the limits of traditional education. One of the top private schools in the nation, St. Ann’s allows students to discover the joy of rigorous academic pursuit while fostering their creativity as well. Teachers don’t give formal grades on work, and students have the freedom and flexibility to effectively design their own curriculum. “I made this deal with my geometry teacher where I would read a series of feminist fiction books instead of doing geometry because I wasn’t paying attention in class,” Rechtman said. “That was cool until I ended up having to get a geometry tutor when I went to take the SATs.” Beyond this non-traditional approach to geometry, at St. Ann’s Rechtman had the opportunity to take classes not usually found at your typical high school — like Constitutional Law or Puppetry. Outside of the classroom, she continued to explore both creative and critical thinking through poetry and theater groups, as well as the school’s renowned debate team. During her sophomore year of high school, Rechtman spent a semester abroad in Israel. She remembers the time as a mix of exhilaration and intense homesickness. As difficult as it was to be a 15-year-old studying abroad, Rechtman credits the semester as one of the most important experiences in her life, one that allowed her to truly find her independence from her parents and the social world of St. Ann’s. Although she loved her high school experience, Rechtman acknowledges it wasn’t until after she left that she could fully recognize the problems within the institution — or rather, within the student body. “Everyone was cool and artsy, but it wasn’t cool to be politically active about most things, or to be gay. It wasn’t cool to have strong feelings about anything,” she said. Rechtman’s underlying frustration with the apathetic atmosphere of St. Ann’s would stay with her through her time there and would later play a big role in shaping her experiences at Amherst.
BROOKLYN TO THE PIONEER VALLEY Amherst — a college with a belief in individual academic freedom like St. Ann’s, and her mother’s alma mater — seemed, in theory, to be a natural choice for Rechtman. But it wasn’t until a transcendent moment during Admitted Students’ Weekend that she realized that Amherst was the right fit. After a night of dancing at a random party in the socials, Rechtman remembers taking a walk outside with the senior she’d been dancing with. The senior, who happened to be the president of Amherst Hillel, pointed to the sky saying, “Look at the stars. I bet you never see stars like this at home.” “And it was true,” Rechtman recalled. “The sky at night in the city is foggy with smoke and streetlights and here the sky was just so clear and I could see all the stars.” But the differences between Brooklyn and Massachusetts were more than she expected, and despite Rechtman’s experiences studying abroad, the transition to Amherst was difficult. Coming from a high school with few sports, she was taken aback by the prevalence of athletics on campus, among other things: the misogyny, anti-Semitism and intolerance for religiousness. ONE MULTIVOCAL VOICE After a difficult first year, Rechtman was determined to start fresh during her sophomore year. That fresh start would not have been possible without She-bomb.com, the Amherst feminist blog that would eventually become AC Voice. On the recommendation of Becca Kelley ’12, one of She-bomb’s founders, Rechtman applied and was accepted as a writer at the beginning of her sophomore year. The blog began as the outlet she’d been searching for, as a way for people to get to know her. When the original founders of She-bomb graduated in the spring of 2012, they passed on the responsibility of maintaining the website to Rechtman and Craig Campbell ’15. The two newly appointed editors had a vision of a site that addressed a broader range of campus issues than She-bomb had — a site that would allow a variety of Amherst voices to be heard. After a summer of reorganization, web design and recruitment, AC Voice was born. At the time, Rechtman didn’t think of the redesign as the start of a whole new organization, one that she would be at the head of. “I really just wanted to be a writer,” she commented. But Rechtman soon became anything but “just” a writer. In November of 2011, she published an article about the definition of rape and was surprised at the recognition it received on campus. After a couple of days had passed and students were
14 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • MAY 23, 2014
still talking about the article, Rechtman began to realize that there were others who cared about problems of sexual respect on campus as well. It was after she wrote an article in April 2012 endorsing Tania Dias ’13 for the AAS presidential election that Rechtman believes she became someone people thought of when they thought of women’s issues on campus. Shortly after that was published, she received a picture of a misogynistic T-shirt printed by the fraternity formerly known as TD from a senior who asked her to wait until he had graduated to write about it. Although it was Dana Bolger ’14E and not Rechtman who eventually ended up writing the article, a trip through the AC Voice archives clearly documents Rechtman’s lasting commitment to exposing the culture of silence around sexual violence. TWEETING WITH EVANGELICALS Other reoccurring themes in Rechtman’s online writing often show up in other aspects of her Amherst life — most notably, her thesis within the Religion Department. The daughter of a rabbi, Hara Person ’86, Rechtman has been thinking critically about issues of faith for a while now. The beginning of her interest in her thesis topic — the connection between evangelicalism and Zionism — can be seen by some of her early AC Voice and She-bomb articles. Titled “Politics and Promises: The Complicated Relationship between Evangelicals and Israel,” Rechtman’s thesis explores the nuances behind evangelical Christianity’s traditional support of Israel, including the little-researched field of evangelicals who don’t support Israel. She began studying Evangelical Christianity her sophomore year in Professor David Wills’ “American Christianity” course. That same semester, she attended a conference in Washington, D.C. held by the American Israel Political Action Committee. Arriving at the conference, Rechtman noticed that there were two different “tracks” of events and speakers: one for young Jewish leaders and one for evangelical Christians. Intrigued, Rechtman took the latter option on a whim and spent the weekend meeting and listening to evangelical Christians. “I totally disagreed with everything everyone was saying,” she admitted, “but it was still really cool.” After discussing her deepening interest in evangelicalism with Professor Wills, Rechtman began to design a research track that would eventually lead to her thesis. For the next two years, she immersed herself in the world of evangelical Christianity through historical research, fieldwork, interviews and social media. Rechtman even spent the summer before her senior year working closely with
Photos courtesy of Liya Rechtman ’14
• Rechtman, left, photographed at the “I Support Love” campaign this April. an evangelical church while simultaneously doing an internship in New York. Rechtman ended her thesis with a chapter about evangelical criticism of Israel. Fundamental to this last chapter was a conference called “Christ at the Checkpoint,” which addressed the question of what Evangelicalism has to say about the oppression of Palestinian people. The conference was held in Bethlehem, but Rechtman livestreamed all of the events, maintaining a dialogue with Evangelical leaders in attendance though Twitter. As her thesis advisor, Professor Wills was impressed at Rechtman’s unflagging dedication to her topic, especially over such an extended time period. “She brought enormous energy and a wide-ranging curiosity to her project — so wide-ranging I sometimes tried, without much success, to rein her in a little,” Wills said. “She got me interested in things I hadn’t thought a lot about, so I learned a great deal from working with her.” CONSTANTLY EVOLVING Somehow, in the midst of double majoring (both religion and English) and running a successful publication, Rechtman has still found time to engage with the wider campus community. As co-chair of Pride Alliance during her junior year, Rechtman worked to revitalize campus social life for LGBTQ students by founding events such as Queer Prom and Lavender Graduation. During that year, she and other co-chair James Hildebrand ’15 were excited to note that attendance at weekly meetings increased from ten people to 40. Come senior year, Rechtman stepped down as Pride Alliance cochair and ran for AAS senate instead. Although she said she initially joined senate with the intention of being an outsider, Rechtman was surprised at the degree to which she became absorbed in the workings of student government. During her time as senator, she was involved with several important committees, including the Sexual
Respect Task Force, the Sexual Misconduct Oversight Committee and the First-Year Life and Orientation Committee. Rechtman stated that she was proudest of her work on the First-Year Life and Orientation Committee. “It’s pretty rare to have a senior on the Orientation Committee,” she said. “My orientation was a disaster, and it affected my whole first year experience. I think it’s one of the most important and formative parts of life at Amherst. I’ve spent all year thinking about the class of 2018, who I’ll never get to meet, which is weird.” TERRAS IRRADIENT 2.0 Although she hopes that she has had lasting positive impact on campus life, Rechtman doesn’t want to hold onto Amherst too tightly. This summer, she will be working at the college with the Center for Community Engagement to set up a student archivist position and create an exhibit about the history of sexual respect activism on campus. But as soon as August arrives, Rechtman plans to leave Western Massachusetts for Washington, D.C., where she will be working for the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism. She described the opportunity to work with the progressive lobbyist group as her “dream job,” which combines her intellectual interests and passion for activism. Amherst would certainly be a different place without the work she has done. Whether graduating senior or incoming first year, whether they know her or not, students have directly and indirectly benefitted from Rechtman’s tireless efforts to improve the community we call Amherst. James Hildebrand, a close friend of Rechtman’s, described her as the proverbial nail that sticks out and keeps getting hammered down. “There’s this notion that putting yourself out there and pushing back against the status quo can only bring you pain and suffering,” Hildebrand said. “If there’s anyone who proves this statement wrong, it’s Liya Rechtman.”
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A Year in News: Deans, Frats and the AAS AUGUST Amherst’s Book & Plow Farm celebrated its ﬁrst harvest, bringing in hundreds of pounds of kale, watermelon, mustard and bok choi, among many other fruits and vegetables. Farmers Peter McLean and Tobin Porter-Brown opened Book & Plow last year, and have been using the farm’s produce to supply Valentine Dining Hall as well as other customers around Amherst. SEPTEMBER The college celebrated the completion of its $502 million “Lives of Consequence” fundraising campaign. The campaign, which launched in 2008, engaged 86 percent of Amherst alumni and 54 percent of parents through 1,463 events as well as opportunities to mentor and network with students. Ultimately, the college surpassed its $425 million fundraising goal.
The Book & Plow Farm celebrated its first harvest, supplying Valentine Dining Hall with pounds of watermelon, kale, carrots, lettuce and turnips, among many other fruits and vegetables.
Students protested outside Converse Hall after Jim Larimore’s abrupt resignation prompted President Biddy Martin to appoint Suzanne Coffey to the newly created position of Chief Student Affairs Officer.
Photos by Olivia Tarantino ’15
OCTOBER Amherst received unﬂattering media attention when Newsweek obtained a copy of an email sent by Residential Life to many members of the student body prior to homecoming weekend. The Newsweek article criticized a section of the email that warned students to “keep an eye out for unwanted sexual advances” from alumni looking to take advantage of “what they now perceive to be an ‘easy’ hook-up scene back at Amherst.” Director of Residential Life Torin Moore issued a statement apologizing to the community for the email’s characterization of alumni. After months of uncertainty due to unforeseen construction diﬃculties, the Board of Trustees ﬁnally voted to approve plans for a new science center, deciding to raze the social dorms in order to make way for a science center that is expected to open in fall 2018. Although the college had initially intended to construct the new buildings on the site of the current Merrill Science Center, the Board voted to abandon this plan last spring after building on the Merrill site proved to be more costly and disruptive than anticipated. The college also announced the construction of new dorms to replace the socials. These dorms will be built on the site where the modular housing units Plaza and Waldorf now stand and are slated to be completed in August 2016. NOVEMBER A professor of midwifery, a saxophonist and an Amherst College senior were among the eight speakers at the ﬁrst ever TEDxAmherstCollege event. TEDx events are independently organized oﬀshoots of the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences, and feature a combination of live speakers and videos of TED talks from other locations. Amherst’s
TEDx conference was organized by a team of students who hope to make TEDxAmherstCollege into an annual event. Angie Epifano and another former student ﬁled a federal complaint against Amherst College, alleging that the college violated Title IX and the Clery Act by mishandling reports of sexual assault. The complaint came more than a year after Epifano published an account in The Amherst Student describing her experience with the administration’s handling of her sexual assault. Epifano said that she and an unnamed alumna decided to ﬁle the complaint after they decided that Amherst had not adequately responded to the reports of mishandled sexual assaults that began to surface last fall. The U.S. Department of Education’s Oﬃce for Civil Rights is currently investigating the complaint, and recently included Amherst’s name on a list it released of 55 colleges facing Title IX investigations for allegedly mishandling sexual assault and harassment. The college hired Laurie Frankl to be its ﬁrst ever full-time Title IX Coordinator the day after the complaint was ﬁled. DECEMBER Renovations began on the college’s old Powerhouse building, which is scheduled to open as a new space for student activities next fall. Administrators and students on the Powerhouse Committee envision the space being used for performances, late night studying, concerts, speakers and other events. The student committee will be in charge of the budget, booking events and dayto-day operations of the Powerhouse, with the new Dean of Students providing some general oversight. Amherst College Press, a new digital press based at the college, named Mark Edington as its founding director. Edington, formerly the executive director of the Harvard Decision Science Library, will be leading Amherst’s eﬀort to become the ﬁrst higher-education institution to run a completely digital open-access press. Unlike most university presses, Amherst College Press is a commons press, a press whose content is available for free. The ﬁrst books published by Amherst College Press will be released next year. JANUARY Amherst expelled a student for committing sexual assault, marking the ﬁrst time in over a decade that the college had expelled a perpetrator of sexual violence. The expulsion is the ﬁrst under a newly revised sexual misconduct policy that was put into place during the spring of 2013. The new sexual misconduct policy includes changes such as a revised process for submitting complaints of sexual assault and measures that seek to better inform the community about sexual violence complaints.
The following students of the class of 2014 have been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa for their show of academic excellence, based on their cumulative grade point average. Asterisks indicate nomination at the end of junior year. Luca Antonucci Sarah Ashman Diana Babineau Jaskaran Bains* Christine Bierema Benjamin Boatwright Brian Brady Emma Broches Aubrie Campbell Madeline Chan Gregory Cohan Winslow Dahlberg-Wright
20 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • MAY 23, 2014
Christopher Dale Matthew DeButts Ruodi Duan Christopher Finch* Christopher Gerry Thea Goldring Angelina Gómez Carlos Sierra Noah Gordon Hannah Greenwald Cassandra Gross Philip Hendrix
Colby Jantzen Allison Koo Junsuk Lee Ruozi Li Shanghui Li Yi Lu Maia Mareš Michael Milov Olivia Ouyang Michael Podgorski Charles Reighard Megan Rothe
Kaitlin Silkowitz Meghna Sridhar Nancy Yun Tang George Tepe Audrey Tiew* Paul Tyler Dylan Vasey Jacob Walters Jacob Witten Yang Xiao Rebecca Zakarian Bitian Zhang
Students filled Pruyne Lecture Hall for a special senate meeting to discuss the Judiciary Council’s voiding of the AAS presidential election results.
A local news crew interviewed fraternity members earlier this month after the Board of Trustees announced it would enforce a ban on off-campus fraternities starting July 1.
At a White House summit attended by President Biddy Martin and other college presidents, the college announced four new initiatives to build upon its eﬀorts to increase college access and success for low-income students. Martin announced that the college will be introducing initiatives to help Native American students attend college, to improve college access for local low-income students, to encourage low-income students to major in STEM ﬁelds and to enhance the experiences of low-income students at Amherst. After December’s Crossett Christmas parties resulted in overcrowding and disorderly behavior in the social quad, the Dean of Students Oﬃce announced a new party policy that aims to create safer party conditions at Amherst. Part of the policy involves an eﬀort to push gatherings into spaces other than the social dorms and make it easier for students to register parties in common spaces. After three months under the new policy, college staﬀ members have said that the policy has made some progress in reducing overcrowding and encouraging students to clean up after their parties. FEBRUARY Jim Larimore abruptly stepped down from his position as Dean of Students, prompting President Biddy Martin to appoint former Athletic Director Suzanne Coﬀey to the newly created position of Chief Student Aﬀairs. Larimore said in an email to the community that he made the change for personal reasons and that
the job was causing him to move away from the “personal aspects of being a dean” that he valued. The change proved highly controversial as some protested the lack of student input on Coﬀey’s appointment. The college is currently searching for a Dean of Students to work under Coﬀey in the newly renamed and restructured Oﬃce of Student Aﬀairs. Amherst announced the creation of its 38th oﬃcial major, as the Department of Mathematics changed its name to the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and began oﬀering a new statistics major. The new statistics major has a curriculum with an emphasis on interdisciplinary skills and a required senior capstone project. The college approved plans for a new Humanities Center to be built on the second ﬂoor of Frost Library. The center will support the scholarship of resident faculty in the humanities and also provide space for visiting scholars. The Humanities Center, which is expected to open in 2015, has attracted some controversy from faculty who are worried by plans to displace stacks of books and faculty carrels in order to accommodate the center. MARCH Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum announced it would be working with the FBI to reopen an investigation on a painting that was stolen from the museum on Feb. 8, 1975. The painting, Jean Baptist Lambrechts’ “Figures Smoking and Drinking” was one of
three works stolen from the Mead that night in 1975. While the other painting were recovered in 1989, the Lambrechts painting has yet to be found, although Mead Head of Security Heath Cummings says that there is some new information in the case. APRIL The Oﬃce of Admissions accepted 13 percent of applicants to the class of 2018, oﬀering admission to 1,103 out of 8,468 students who applied this year. Applications to Amherst rose by more than 6 percent this year, making this the second largest applicant pool in the college’s history. Swedish DJ duo Icona Pop headlined Spring Concert on April 26. The electro-pop group, made up of Stockholm natives Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, played to a crowd of Amherst and Five College students in LeFrak gymnasium. British DJ Star Slinger, whose real name is Darren Williams, was the opening act. MAY Amherst announced the creation of a new Oﬃce of Environmental Sustainability scheduled to open next fall. The college is in the midst of a nationwide search for the oﬃce’s director. Chief of Campus Operations Jim Brassord proposed the oﬃce, which he said will work to coordinate Amherst’s sustainability initiatives and further incorporate sustainability into research and teaching. The announcement came just days before the faculty voted to make
the college’s environmental studies program into an oﬃcial department. The Board of Trustees announced that the college will enforce a ban on oﬀ-campus fraternities starting July 1. The board’s chair, Cullen Murphy ’74, said that the ban was intended to uphold the spirit of the trustees’ 1984 resolution banning fraternities. The board portrayed the decision as a response to the Sexual Misconduct Oversight Committee’s 2013 report, which asked the board to clarify the ambiguous position of oﬀ-campus fraternities at Amherst. The decision provoked an intense backlash from many students, particularly members of fraternities. With the support of 70.46 percent of voting students, the AAS passed a referendum condemning the board’s resolution and calling for it to be overturned. After nearly a month of complaints and controversy surrounding this year’s Association of Amherst Students presidential election, the Judiciary Council decided to void the election results, leaving the AAS temporarily without a president. The election results ﬁrst came into doubt after some alleged that the winning candidate, Amani Ahmed ’15, had overspent on her campaign. Some claimed that Ahmed had violated the $45 limit by spending $20.35 on campaign posters that she never used in addition to $39.40 on posters she did use. Ultimately, the Judiciary Council overturned a previous ruling and decided that Ahmed had violated the AAS constitution’s deﬁnition of campaign expenditures.
Crimes (and Criminals) of the Year
June 2, 2013 11:35 p.m., Plimpton House Officers responded to a report of bears in the area of Plimpton. Three bears were located in the area near the Emily Dickinson house, and they fled into the woods. Aug. 8, 2013 1:33 p.m., Campus Grounds An officer checked on an area near Garman where it was reported someone may have been sleeping in between bushes. No one was found but there was evidence of a makeshift bed. The materials were disposed of. Oct. 6, 2013 1:38 a.m., Keefe Campus Center An officer responded to a report that a student urinated on the floor inside the snack bar. The student was located out-
Oct. 26, 2013 11:00 p.m., Marsh House The Amherst Police reported stopping three students who were walking away from Marsh with pumpkins. They were directed to return them.
Nov. 7, 2013 4:32 p.m., Keefe Campus Center An officer responded to a report of a person yelling in a locked second-floor bathroom. The officer discovered the person, who is a student, was watching a game on a laptop and was cheering.
side the building and identified. He will be fined $100 for the offensive behavior. The matter was also referred to the Dean’s Office.
Dec. 11, 2013 4:21 p.m., Frost Library A caller reported a person watching a pornographic video on a computer on level B. A man matching the description was located but he was not engaged in the reported activity. He was identified and set on his way.
Oct. 27, 2013 1:02 a.m., Stone Dormitory Officers responded to a report of two unknown males attempting to steal an elk head from a first-floor common room. Upon arrival, the men had already left the building. Nov. 1, 2013 11:54 p.m., Campus Grounds A resident of Merrill apartments reported a group of people arguing outside of Wieland. The responding officer found members of the Debate Team sitting at a table. They were advised of the complaint. Oct. 30, 2013 9:36 p.m., LeFrak Gymnasium An officer responded to a roof alarm detector and discovered a man on the roof, who has no association with the college. He said he was there to meditate. After being identified, he was directed off campus.
Jan. 18, 2014 11:25 a.m., Social Quad Officers responded to a report of approximately 30 people outside of Crossett who were trying to start fights. No one was around when officers arrived. Jan. 30, 2014 5:40 p.m., Converse Hall Officers responded to a report of a man
sleeping in a second-floor office. He was identified and it was determined that he was authorized to be in the office. Feb. 1, 2014 2:34 a.m., Morris Pratt Dormitory A resident reported that while away from his unlocked room, someone entered the room and splashed liquid NyQuil over a desk, clothes, books and a wall. Feb. 2, 2014 3:22 p.m., Porter House An officer responded to a report of loud males and females in the first floor women’s room in Porter. It was discovered students were working on a theater class film. Feb. 15, 2014 12:25 a.m., Hitchcock House While checking Hitchcock House, an officer found the remains of a large unauthorized party. Chocolate sauce was found spread over the floor and tables, and there were many empty beer cans, as well as a melting ice sculpture. Several full 30-packs of beer were also found and confiscated. The matter was referred to the Dean’s Office.
Cartoons by Clarice Carmichael ’16
Apr. 18, 2014 11:45 p.m., Morris Pratt Dormitory Officers responded to a report of a white powdery substance in lines on a table in the third floor common room. It was tested and found not to be a narcotic. Apr. 19, 2014 11:41 p.m., East Dr. Three females were observed urinating in front of the police station. They ran toward the social dorms when a dispatcher called out to them from a window. May 15, 2014 11:46 a.m., President’s House An officer responded to a report of a moose in the area of Woodside Avenue. The officer assisted the town police with the matter. May 3, 2014 2:14 a.m., Tyler House Officers were dispatched to a report of a suspicious male sleeping near the building’s entrance. They found the person to be a student who had fallen asleep.
Apr. 7, 2014 11:57 p.m., Wieland Dormitory An officer responded to a report of someone yelling and throwing things around a third-floor room. It was discovered that a resident was venting frustration over a project he was working on.
MAY 23, 2014 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • 21
PROFILE • KIMBERLY BAIN
Save Room on the Bookshelf for this Author Kim Bain combines both technical skill and passionate creativity as a dancer and writer. — Clarice Carmichael ’16 I’ve spent the past three years admiring Kim Bain from a distance. Literally from a distance, as in straining my neck over a frenzied audience to see her dominate a DASAC show or watching her TA from the back of my 80-person English class. She’s kind of a big deal. Veteran of multiple dance groups, indispensable member of the English Department Steering Committee and winner of this year’s Elizabeth Bruss Prize, Bain is a powerhouse — and that’s just what those of us who admire her from a distance get to see. She’s an award-winning writer, but she’s not about to tell you so herself. Her talent nevertheless has a way of revealing itself, turning even our short breakfast interview into a site of wonderful storytelling. CULTURE SHOCK Bain was born in Trinidad and moved to the States when she was eight years old. What threw her for a loop during this major transition? The shopping carts, of course. “In the supermarkets ... in Trinidad they’re, like, half that size. Maybe even close to a third of that size,” she began. “And I remember coming here and being absolutely amazed that there could be a grocery cart that’s that massive and that people could fill it with food. And they could actually purchase the food, and that was just really astounding to me, and I remember standing in the cereal aisle and just watching this wall of cereal and being absolutely confounded as to how people could choose and how they could afford all these cereals and I thought it was just the greatest thing ever.” It’s a childhood memory that she recalls “very viscerally” to this day. Bain first visited Amherst during one of our trademark gloom and doom days. You know the ones: cold that you just can’t shake, topped off with an unrelenting drizzle and wrapped in lifeless gray. It gave her
a less-than-favorable impression of the campus, but she applied anyway. Flash forward to May, and Bain found herself deciding between Columbia and Amherst. She gave the college another shot and visited during Admitted Students Weekend. To her great delight, “the weather was gorgeous and everything was green and it was warm.” It’s no mystery which institution she chose, and Amherst has its beautiful spring scenery to thank for snagging Kim Bain. INK STAINS If you’ve attended a DASAC or Amherst Dance performance in recent years, you’ll know how impossible it is to ignore Bain on stage. She’s no bit player. Bain stars in several numbers each show and never misses a beat. The sheer amount of choreography she memorizes for a performance is intimidating enough without her flawless execution and unlimited energy. “That’s how I de-stress,” she said of the multiple “very long and very time-consuming” rehearsals. “The great thing is working out your body and not your brain. You can just step away from academics.” Bain joined Amherst Dance her very first semester at Amherst. She was drawn to the group’s informal feel as well as its inclusiveness. She got into a hip-hop piece and the rest is — you know. She joined two more dance groups in her sophomore year: Dancing and Stepping at Amherst College (DASAC) and the DBJ, a Five College K-pop dance crew. “And from then I just did so much dancing,” she said. Bain has managed to make time for even more extracurriculars. She was a part of Autopsy, an on-campus club devoted to screening controversial films and opening them up for discussion by students and professors alike. “I also quasi-started a writing club with writers who just wanted to
find a community so they could do their stuff,” she said. “It was called Ink Stains.” We laughed for a bit. “Which I felt was very clever ... clearly I’m the only one who’s enjoying that.” (I disagree.) ON IT! Ever ambitious, Bain entered Amherst set on becoming an English and Psychology double major. To her first-year advisor, LJST Professor Martha Umphrey, she declared, “I want to take three languages, I want to take Spanish, Chinese and Japanese, plus I want to take Intro to Psych and an English class! So I think five classes would be acceptable.” She was promptly encouraged to turn things down a notch, which led to her taking, and falling for, Chinese. In what she describes as an unexpected turn of events, Bain ended up pairing her English major with Asian Languages and Civilizations. The English Department seems pretty thrilled to have her, too. Professor Judith Frank, the English Department Director of Studies, had this to say about her involvement in the Department: “Kim won the Elizabeth W. Bruss Award in our department, which is the prize we give in memory of one of the most beloved professors we’ve had. Kim has been a brilliant and versatile student, and has done more to create a sense of community among English majors than anyone in recent memory. She also worked as an assistant for several professors (me, Prof. Cobham-Sander), making our lives both easier and more pleasant. Her signature ‘On it!’ — her response to our email requests — was always a joy to get, and we joke about how without Kim being on it, we don’t know how any of us will function in the future.” Cobham-Sander added, “Kim didn’t only keep the English Department running. She probably kept at
• Bain was awarded the the Elizabeth Bruss Prize by the Amherst English Department. For her senior thesis, she wrote a novel titled “Shards of Ghosts.”
22 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • MAY 23, 2014
Photos courtesy of Kimberly Bain ’14
• Bain (middle) has starred in multiple dance groups, including Amherst Dance, DASAC and DBJ. least three of us in the Department focused for most of the last two years. She worked as my academic intern for my digital humanities course that I taught in collaboration with colleagues on two other campuses and the logistical organization that it involved was overwhelming. I would never have been able to manage the course without her assistance.” Bain has been a part of the English Department’s Steering Committee since the beginning of her sophomore year. The committee acts as a liaison between students and faculty, and even has some input during the department’s hiring process. Bain continues to impress inside the classroom, as well. SHARDS OF GHOSTS “So, for my thesis, I wrote a novel,” Bain said. To wit, she submitted a third of a novel, but has written more than half of it. “It’s a novel on postcolonial identity and it features three main characters who are all from different parts of the world. So we have one young girl who lives in the Caribbean, another woman who lives in Hong Kong, another one, a guy, who lives in India, in Bangalore, and they sort of each go on journeys, discovering who they are on different levels.” she explained. The novel is called “Shards of Ghosts.” “The title is sort of tied up with the past being ghostlike and still existing in this in-between plane but also shard-like, because it can actually still hurt you. It can be dangerous,” Bain said. Bain remembers her thesis-writing process as riddled with false starts. However, there came a point where she realized she couldn’t keep going back, and turning in ten single-spaced pages to her thesis advisor, Visiting Writer Amity Gaige, became significantly easier. “Kim was a steady, wise thesis student. After my comments she’d disappear and then reappear with comprehensive revisions. I was amazed by her ability to translate fairly ambitious concepts into powerful fictions. I kept expecting her to
say, enough! But she never did. And her amazing novel-in-progress is the result,” Gaige said. Bain is a meticulous writer, preferring to write in sequence — as opposed to penning especially interesting scenes ahead of time — and keeping bio sheets for her characters that are not limited to hair and eye color. “[It’s] things that’ll never end up in the actual book but sort of flesh out who they are as a person. Do they like crunchy carrots or do they like baked carrots, you know? They don’t like carrots at all!” Bain said. Bain described her work as character-driven. Her goal in life is to write a character who is universally despised but whose story is nevertheless beloved. “That’s the height of skill,” she added. CONFIDENCE BOOST The most exciting incident in Bain’s Amherst career was getting her driver’s license. The second was winning the Peter Burnett Howe Prize for excellence in prose fiction her junior year. “I think that was a proud moment for me, just because it really sort of told me ... you’re doing something that would be worthwhile, because it’s sort of hard to jump into the abyss and not get any response back,” Bain said. Bain revealed that it took earning the award to gain a sense of confidence in her abilities as a writer outside of a classroom setting, adding, “You read other people’s work and you think, ‘Wow, this is amazing. Mine doesn’t stand up.’ And we don’t have the distance to judge our own work.” HOMEWARD BOUND Bain, a New Yorker, plans to relocate to the Big Apple — if not the Bay Area — after graduation to work in either marketing and PR or publishing. In the long-term, she’ll pursue a doctorate in comparative literature. That doesn’t mean she’s giving up producing literature of her own. “I really love writing,” she said. “I don’t intend on ever stopping. I still want to take fiction writing classes and write and try to get published.”
BRIANDA REYES • PROFILE
A Life-Long Dreamer Finds Her Voice Through her perserverence and passion, former editor-in-chief of The Amherst Student is the true embodiment of the American Dream. — Brendan Hsu ’15 The paper you hold in your hands would not be what it is today without Brianda Reyes. The Student’s former editor-in-chief has left an indelible mark on not just the paper, but on the college and perhaps even the country. That all this happened before she turned 20 is impressive. That this is only a fragment of her life as an undocumented immigrant, a dreamer and student is extraordinary. FINDING FLUENCY “From the age of about three to about eight and a half I lived in Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua. Ciudad Juárez was known as the murder capital of the world for a couple years. We lived there, then moved back to my birthplace for a year, and then after that we came to this country,” she recounted. “We got a temporary three month visa and then we just stayed after it expired.” Life in Dallas was tense. Though she lived in a community of people with similar backgrounds and shared stories, “there was still a constant every day threat of being deported or having my dad be deported.” The dichotomy between community and alienation constantly appeared in Reyes’ life. “When I came to America I only knew a few words [of English] and those words were ‘I don’t speak English,’” she said. Though her largely Spanish-speaking neighborhood made this livable, “school was different. I was in a bilingual class, but everyone else in my grade spoke English and … I had no idea what they were talking about. I was afraid everyone was talking about me so I said, ‘I need to learn English and I need to learn it fast and I need to learn it well.’” With the same drive that would infect each aspect of her work and passions, nine-year-old Reyes dove headfirst into the language, practically drowning herself in it. However, she wasn’t content to just have a second language. She wanted to speak without an accent: “I figured if I had an accent people would make fun of me. So for all of fifth grade — the first year that I had
here — I would just breathe English. … I would just sort of string together sentences that made no sense but that had words that I knew. So I would just say, ‘the cat eats a donut,’ because I knew those words and I could put them in a sentence. When I was in the car I … would just talk to myself, and my parents were a little concerned because they couldn’t understand what I was saying.” Reyes picked up the language at an extraordinary pace, and by seventh grade had placed out of ESL. Reyes also realized very early how much her parents had sacrificed to bring her to America and better her life. She would not let them down. “English for me was the language that was going to get me where I wanted to be. I wanted to achieve the American dream. I wasn’t going to be able to do [that] with Spanish only and I knew it.” A HAPPY ACCIDENT Reyes’ first foray into the news was an accident, perhaps the most fortunate one of her life. A lazy high school counselor and a scheduling mishap landed her in a journalism class. “It took me a while, but I realized first that I was good at it and that second I liked it, in that order,” she said. She became an impassioned interviewer and writer, loving “interviewing people, writing and telling a story and just crafting something.” She took more classes, learning about other aspects of publication like design and editorship. Editing made perfect sense to the aspiring journalist, and as she moved into higher leadership positions, she gained more autonomy to write the stories she wanted, including editorials. Her senior year, Reyes wrote her final editorial: “I Am an Undocumented Student.” “I kept [my legal status] hidden for a while — about three years — because I didn’t want them to judge me, because I thought it was something I should be ashamed of,” she said. Unfortunately, some of the fear she felt was justified. After publishing the piece, “I started to get a lot of hate from people. I was ranked pretty highly in my class at
• Boyfriend Noah Gordon ‘14 has been constant support for Reyes since their first meeting during orientation week.
the time, and people would come up to me and say, ‘I hope you get deported. That way I can go up a spot.’” It was her first time dealing with the more incendiary aspects of journalism, but certainly not her last. College had been on Reyes’ mind since she was a child, but her undocumented status was a problem. Publicly funded schools require proof of residence. Reyes would also need substantial financial assistance. Amherst, among other prestigious institutions, wasn’t on her radar until after talking to a counselor at a summer journalism program, who introduced the idea of private, small, elite institutions. “I hadn’t considered it at all after I applied to it. I crossed my fingers and things fell into place,” she said. VOICE OF THE CAMPUS At Amherst, Reyes immediately gravitated towards the news section of The Student. She was promoted to co-editor in two months, and eventually ascended to editor-in-chief. Three stories headlined Reyes’ time in charge: an Association of Amherst Students election scandal, former professor Carleen Basler being accused of plagiarism and Angie Epifano’s story. Emmett Knowlton ’15, Sports Editor under Reyes at the time, testified, “her work for The Student seems to me among the most important work done by any single student on campus.” The 2012 AAS elections saw a complaint that voting tallies had been leaked prior to polls closing. With the help of trusted anonymous informant “Q” and former editor-in-chief Nihal Shrinath ’13, Reyes broke the story, but not before an involved party threatened to sue. A lawsuit could have meant undue attention for her family, and possible deportation, but she went ahead. “Ultimately I think we did the right thing by publishing the story. I got my first real taste of public hatred, and it made me grow a thicker skin,” she said. Mere weeks into the start of the 2012 fall semester, Reyes was called into an administrative meeting, where faculty cited concerns of plagiarism in then-professor Carleen Basler’s academic work. Reyes interviewed both students and administrators to tell a holistic story of the popular professor’s violation of academic honesty. Neither side was satisfied with Reyes’ article, thinking her either too harsh or too kind. “People thought I had humanized her in a way that she didn’t deserve.” Reyes recalled a friend’s supportive words: “If half think you’ve done too much and half think you’ve done too little, added up you’ve done just right.” BREAKING THE SILENCE Nothing Reyes had done previously would fully prepare her for Epifano’s story of sexual assault and subsequent disparagement by campus administrators. Upon first receiving the story she
Photos courtesy of Brianda Reyes ’14
• Reyes served as editor-in-chief of The Student during one of the busiest years of news in recent Amherst history. recalled, “I turned off the TV, read it two or three times and then I called my mom, and I explained to her the story that I had gotten, and I told her that I knew exactly what I needed to do, but that it was extremely scary because I knew that Angie was making really powerful accusations that would have repercussions for people on campus.” The article immediately garnered half a million views, was shared by people around the world and investigated by other journalists. In the ensuing media frenzy, Reyes was in constant contact with news outlets, many of whom asked about Amherst’s specific problem with sexual assault, “as if it only happened here,” she said. “Across the country people were saying that this was similar to their experience. So I felt that it was doing a disservice to Amherst by painting it as though it was the black sheep of the colleges, but it was also doing a disservice to all of the other survivors.” Not all of the attention Reyes received was positive. Alumni questioned her journalistic integrity. Ignorant comments about rape were posted on Epifano’s article. But it was worth it. Reyes believes that the publication of the article contributed to the beginning of the drive for change in sexual misconduct policies on campus. “I do think that the newspaper had a role in the things that are happening today. Before, there was no fire, and I think Angie’s article gave at least the students here the fire that they needed to push hard and to not take no for an answer,” she said. DREAMING With all that was happening at school, traveling home was a welcome relief — had the trip not been a threeday train ride. Getting pulled aside by TSA risked deportation, so Reyes took the train home rather than fly. It wasn’t just cramped seating and strange people that bothered Reyes most about the train, but “that for three days I was just reminded of everything I couldn’t do.” She has made this trip four or five times over the years. In 2012, Obama opened applications to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Reyes’ undocumented status had a temporary fix, and she is currently under deferred status. She can fly. She can get a job.
The differences between her and citizens were slowly fading. Her anchor through all of this was Noah Gordon ’14, and together they make the best couple on campus. Now planning their move together to New York City, they had their first date during orientation week their freshman year and have been together since. “Brianda’s my favorite person on Earth. That’s pretty obvious. She’s my best friend. She’s my girlfriend,” Gordon said. “Even though we’re very different, even though our behaviors are very different we’re very similar in our outlooks on life. How we feel about people. We enter a given situation and come out of it thinking the same thing.” At the same time, Amherst still felt a little isolating. Gone were her fellow undocumented dreamers from Dallas, or so she thought. Her status wasn’t known to many people here: “I was afraid that people would see me differently. I didn’t want to be the undocumented immigrant.” However, after receiving an email asking if she’d like to be part of a reading of “DREAM Acts,” telling the stories of young undocumented people in America, she agreed despite acting being wildly outside her previous experiences. In that cast she met other people in her situation. “Knowing that they existed, knowing that I wasn’t alone was amazing,” she said. Her performance in the reading reflected her excitement, moderator Professor Ilan Stavans saying, “[With] a commanding stage presence that makes others feel comfortable, she’s a dreamer in every sense of the word.” AN INDELIBLE MARK I asked Gordon to describe Reyes off the cuff: “Brianda consistently amazes me more than any other person I know. She came to this country when she was nine. She learned English by middle school; she taught herself. Top of her class in an underfunded high school. The fact that she wound up here after all of that. I think it’s really, really amazing, and she’s astoundingly humble about it. She honestly doesn’t believe that it’s amazing even though to any outside observer she’s conquered more than any single person has in a lifetime.”
MAY 23, 2014 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • 23
PROFILE • CHRIS FINCH
The Goldfinch: A Hockey-Playing Scientist The Colorado native arrived at Amherst to play hockey, but in his four years as a Lord Jeff Finch has left his legacy in the lab. — Nicole Yang ’16 Steamboat Springs, Colo., otherwise known as “Ski Town U.S.A”, is home to more Winter Olympians than any other place in the country. It is also home to senior biochemistry major Christopher Finch, who moved to the mountain town when he was seven years old. While he may not be a competitive skier, Finch still took advantage of all Colorado had to offer by staying active, playing hockey and exploring the great outdoors. TEAM PLAYER At the age of eight, Finch started playing hockey after a classmate brought hockey cards to school. He got his father to take a trip with him to the “hockey swap” where they could pick up used hockey gear and equipment, and started playing from then on. Growing up and even now, Finch has always been a Colorado Avalanche fan and recalls fondly the games he attended with his dad. There were the long car rides traveling to the rink and the breakfasts after early morning practices he is extremely grateful for. When looking back on his “fast departing childhood,” Finch names hockey at the center of it all. “There’s something very free about the times when you didn’t have a care in the world and could just play hockey.” A forward on his high school hockey team, Finch caught the attention of Amherst men’s head hockey coach Jack Arena ’83 and was recruited to play for the college. Finch has many fond memories of his time playing hockey at Amherst, particularly because of the close bonds he formed with his teammates. “I can’t even fathom what it would have been like going through school without playing hockey,” Finch said. “Not only going from the standpoint of having something that
you are very passionate about and that you’re able to pursue at a high level, but also from the standpoint of having teammates and being able to spend all the time with them that I have. Hockey made Amherst what it is to me.” Teammate Ryan Edwards ’14 definitely feels Finch’s warm presence on the team. “I think Finch is all about being there for the team,” Edwards said. “He really thinks about his relationships with people on the team, and I think would give an arm and a leg for any of the guys on the team.” Playing in just 19 games over the course of his college career, Finch had his shining moment during his junior year in the team’s game against St. Michael’s. Going into the third period tied at one-all, he notched his first and only collegiate goal to help lift the Jeffs to a 4-1 victory. “Although Chris didn’t play a lot, he was a model teammate. His attitude and work ethic never wavered, and he made our team better every day,” Arena recounted. “The fact that he hasn’t had the same success in hockey that he has in other areas of his life hasn’t altered his approach in the least, and because of that, my admiration of him has only grown.” This past year, Finch was the hockey team’s recipient of the Friends of Amherst Athletics award, given to a student for showing true dedication to both their athletic and educational experience. LEARNING FROM NATURE Off the ice, Finch enthusiasm extends to exploring the outdoors. “Sometimes, you feel like you need to get outside, so I would grab a backpack and throw in some stuff, some water, and maybe some survival gear, just in case worst comes to worst,” Finch said. “Then I would go out and have an adventure. I think there’s a lot of excitement in
that.” Some of his more extensive adventures include a 55-kilometer Nordic ski race in Colorado, during which he skied down a north-facing slope on the Fourth of July, and hiking the Incan Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. In the future, he plans to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and also visit New Zealand. However, he firmly believes that hiking and backpacking locally can be just as “enriching as the experiential things.” Finch’s time alone with nature led him to start contemplating life, existence and other big philosophical questions. The more he learned about how things worked, the more amazing the world appeared to him. “The more you look up to the stars or you look at a tree or just wander through the wilderness, the more spectacular the world surrounding us seems,” Finch said. His fondness for nature in conjunction with his love for science sparked his interest in his dream job: scuba diving in exotic locations for rare bacteria and then uncovering their use in the lab. This desire stems from Finch’s observation that many drugs are based upon the riches that nature has given us, and his dream career is to uncover these riches for science and humanity. Finch was always interested in the intersection between business and science, of taking research from the lab and transforming it into something that can impact people’s lives directly. He saw research in the lab as an opportunity to understand the world better and to enrich people’s lives. In fact, Finch operates with the mindset that if research is not turned into something that can help people, it will not reach its full potential. “No matter how good the science is, if the business side is not there, then it’s not going to be fully
• Finch scored his only goal for the Lord Jeffs during his junior season in a 4-1 win against St. Michael’s College.
24 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • MAY 23, 2014
Photos courtesy of Chris Finch ’14
• The biochemistry major earned a Churchill Scholarship to research plant biotechnology at Cambridge next year. utilized. No matter how interested someone is on the business front, if the science isn’t there, then it won’t work. That interface is very interesting to me,” Finch said. Finch ended up majoring in biochemistry because it allowed him to explore his diverse interests. He enjoyed the biology part because he “was constantly immersed in nature” while the chemistry part allowed him to understand “how chemistry dictates who we are through the proteins or genetics.” His thesis investigated a signaling pathway of Dictostelium discoideum, or more simply put, slime mold. The protein he was working with, phosphodiesterase, is involved in a number of different symptoms, including hypertension, schizophrenia, depression and muscular dystrophy. His thesis advisor, Chemistry Professor David Ratner, described Finch as “smart as can be,” lauding him for his ability to think clearly and willingness to go after an idea. “The answers he showed on exams and through interpreting experimental data were just so insightful they astonished me,” Ratner said of Finch’s work in Molecular Genetics. Though Finch was only a sophomore, he earned one of the highest grades in the class, including a 100 on the final exam — the first 100 Ratner has given in over a decade. Moreover, Finch’s methodical nature is well suited for the focused discipline of biochemistry. “He came and stayed at Rochester where I’m from for the night, and we had a steak dinner. And Finch is notorious for being very methodical for the way he cuts his meat and the way he prepares his dinner,” Edwards said. “Everything needs to be well organized on his plate. My brother was just sitting there watching him cut his steak and we were all sitting there, basically done with our meals, and he just finished cutting every piece of fat off the steak. I think that is the way Finch approaches everything: very rational, very focused and when I walk into his room sometimes, I can feel like he’s in another world.” THE NEXT STEP
Next year, Finch will be at the University of Cambridge, performing research in plant biotechnology for a year under his Churchill Scholarship. His lab there will focus on bioengineering algae for bio-energy purposes. “Plants in particular are definitely intriguing to me,” Finch said. “You can get algae to produce biofuels, but you could have plants or algae produce any number of compounds. You could have them produce antibiotics or you could have them produce compounds that are helpful for themselves, for stuff like crop enhancement, or helping feed the world.” Finch said the next question for him is, “Can you engineer a plant that produces some compound that helps it grow or increase its yield in poor soil conditions or drought?” Questions like these have prompted Finch’s desire to start a company that will be “pushing at the cutting-edge with some of these bioengineering technologies.” The path that will take him there is unclear, as it will be difficult to determine when he will stumble upon something that is worth pursuing as a business. Since hockey has been a focus of his life for so long, Finch is excited for Cambridge, to find “what is going to be the new passion or the new focus.” Finch has always had a particular admiration for the American founding fathers, pioneers of the Scientific Revolution and Steve Jobs for their eccentric minds and their methodologies. “Sometimes it was weird, sometimes it was wrong, sometimes it didn’t work, but it changed the world,” he said. “For all the things that they had that were incorrect, they had so many others that had a huge impact on the world today.” Finch believes that he’s spent much of his life thus far accumulating information and knowledge, but hasn’t done a lot of “taking it in and turning it into something you can give back.” By pursuing a subject matter that he is truly passionate about, Finch hopes to spread his insights to others, believing he “can inspire you if [he’s] inspired about it.”
MATT DEBUTTS • PROFILE
An Empathetic Listener Leaves His Mark A passionate senator and a thoughtful RC, Matt DeButts will be remembered most at Amherst for his extraordinary efforts to connect with the people around him. — Sophie Murguia ’17 It was a drizzly May morning in Beneski, and Matt DeButts was one of many seniors basking in post-thesis glory, enjoying the brief respite between the due date for his law, jurisprudence and social thought thesis and the onset of finals. But while most seniors might have regaled me with tales of the arduous research process, the intricacies of their argument or the late nights spent in Frost, DeButts did not. In fact, over the course of our hour-long interview, he never once brought up his thesis — which I only later learned is about abandoned spaces in Philadelphia and New Orleans. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s read his latest (and last) article in The Indicator, in which he implored potential thesis writers not to become one of the “self-important eggheads who for six long months entreat others to indulge their self-important navel-gazing.” Instead, DeButts offered a model of a thesis writer who remains deeply engaged with the outside world, maintaining obligations to friends and professors. “We owe far more to our friends and our clubs and our other classes than the cult of the thesis would have us allow,” DeButts wrote. I’d like to think that DeButts fits this model of the engaged, non-navel-gazing thesis writer. During our conversation, I was struck again and again by how profoundly he cares about the people around him. He has an uncommonly strong urge to connect with and understand his fellow human beings, even as he’s troubled by his own tendencies toward selfishness and competition. This, I suspect, is what many of us still at Amherst will remember most about Matt DeButts — even more so than his impressive accomplishments in the classroom, in the senate or on the Ultimate Frisbee field. A PASSIONATE SENATOR AND RC DeButts has been involved in a dizzying number of activities during his time at Amherst: among other things, he’s been a tour guide, a senator, an Ultimate Frisbee player, a Resident Counselor, an editor for The Indicator and a member of Amherst Dance. Feeling a little overwhelmed by these many sides of Matt DeButts, I started our interview by asking him which of these activities were most important to him. “Resident Counselor and student government, probably,” he said. “You meet a lot of people that way.” This is a fairly typical Matt DeButts response. Whenever I asked him why he liked any of the activities he did on campus, he’d invariably tell me that he’d met “a great group of people” there. “I don’t like to think of myself
as belonging in any single group, although I think everybody likes to think of themselves as floating among groups,” he said. “But I guess RCs would probably be where I found the most friends.” One of his friends, Nick Schcolnik ’14, said the two became especially close when they started running together during RC training. “It’s sort of hard to articulate why I care about Matt, other than that I feel good talking to him,” Schcolnik said. “I think one of his best qualities is the ability to empathize,” he added. Greg Cohan ’14, another friend and RC, agreed. “I think when he talks to people he’s not particularly interested in articulating things about himself, but is much more interested in having whoever he’s talking to feel like they’re saying something that’s important to them,” Cohan said. It’s a quality that’s perhaps particularly well suited to an RC, although DeButts acknowledged that being an RC was sometimes “really hard,” because he doesn’t think he’s as extroverted or charismatic as some of the other RCs. This tendency toward introversion also proved to be somewhat of an obstacle for DeButts when he decided to run for the Association of Amherst Students senate during his first year at the college. “Somebody suggested I give it a shot, and I ran and got eighth out of nine,” he said. “I wasn’t really that outgoing. And so I got in, and I was kind of insecure. I felt like I was not super deserving to be there.” Nearly four years later, it would be hard for anyone to argue that DeButts doesn’t deserve to be on the AAS. In his time on senate, he’s been instrumental in bringing back the AAS Distinguished Teaching Award, pushing for more information in online course enrollment pages and trying to make Pub Nights a success. But he was quick to downplay the value of these accomplishments. “I don’t look back on my record and think that I’ve done anything tremendous,” he said. “I’ve just better appreciated the wide range of experiences that students have had here as I’ve interacted with them.” As a senior senate member this semester, DeButts is certainly no longer insecure. In senate meetings, he’s poised and thoughtful, but also fearless about passionately expressing his opinion or destroying an opposing argument. One of my first encounters with DeButts came when I sat in on a senate meeting in February, and he was exhorting his fellow senators to join him in protesting the administration’s handling of former Dean of Students Jim Larimore’s
sudden departure. The next day, I found him and several other students standing outside of Converse Hall, holding signs that read “Ask Us” and “Student Input.” When I brought it up during our interview, he still seemed riled up about the incident. “I was really pissed that we weren’t being given explanations,” he said. The Larimore episode is undoubtedly a testament to how much DeButts cares about Amherst. Whether he’s protesting an administrative change, offering his support for a new policy or giving his own ideas for how the school can improve, he brings this same sort of zeal. And he’s had plenty of opportunity to make his voice heard — in addition to his work on senate, he’s served on various faculty committees, including the Committee on Educational Policy. “I don’t know why I care so much,” he said. “I think maybe it’s something to do with Amherst’s heart being in the right place, and its execution being really poor at times. If they could actually realize the rhetoric that they put out, it could be a fantastic school. And right now it’s a good one.” DISCOVERING NEW INTERESTS AT AMHERST Art History Professor Nicola Courtright, one of the faculty members DeButts has grown closest to while at Amherst, said she first noticed DeButts thinking critically about the college when she met him as a prospective student. “I got an impression of him as a critical, thoughtful person already when he was a high school senior,” Courtright said. For DeButts the high school senior, Amherst seemed like a natural fit. He said that the college’s open curriculum and abundance of student opportunities reminded him in many ways of his high school days in Arlington, Va. “I went to a middle school and high school called H-B Woodlawn that had about 85 students per grade,” he said. “We called the teachers by their first names. It was run through a town meeting where students and faculty had equal votes. There was no dress code, people would skateboard down the hallways, and when you graduated you got to paint something on the wall, which would stay there forever. It was super, super hands-off, and fantastic.” DeButts grew up in Arlington with three younger brothers. The oldest, Ben, told me that the two spent many late nights together talking in the room that they shared. “He’s a very good listener,” said
Photos courtesy of Matt DeButts ’14
• DeButts said his time on senate helped him better appreciate the range of student experiences at Amherst. Ben DeButts, who just finished his “I’m competitive,” he said after sophomore year at Tufts. “Not only a long pause. “I can be boastful. I will he listen to whatever you’re say- sometimes come across as arrogant.” ing, but he’ll analyze it in his own I asked him why he might come particular way. I think no matter if across as boastful and arrogant. I’m saying something that I would “Accepting this profile feels very consider boring, Matt’s listening and boastful. And the urge to tell peohe’s willing to talk to me about it.” ple about good things that I’ve done Ben DeButts said that the two when I know that it won’t make brothers often talk about their aca- them feel better.” demic interests. When Matt DeButts Now on a mission to find Matt came to Amherst, he didn’t have a DeButts’ flaws, I asked his brother particular major in mind, but he said and friends what they thought about he eventually chose LJST because he DeButts’ shortcomings. They were, liked its interdisciplinary nature and understandably, fairly cagey on the thought the faculty were “innovative subject, although Schcolnik did conthinkers.” firm that DeButts can be competiAnd although everyone I talked tive. (“He gets vicious with Settlers to for this profile was quick to praise of Catan!”) his sharp intellect, DeButts’ activities This desire to look beyond himat Amherst have by no means been self and understand where he’s purely cerebral. A talented athlete, lacking must be especially strong in he joined the Ultimate Frisbee team, DeButts, because it seems to be partand he told me that Ultimate gave ly what’s motivating him to spend him the kind of athletic experience the next year teaching in Beijing as that other sports could not. part of the Princeton in Asia fellow“I have a really difficult time with ship program. He was also offered a competitive athletics, because I get Fulbright Scholarship, but turned it really competitive and into it, and I down because he had already deciddon’t like always who I become on ed on Princeton in Asia. the field,” he said. “I find myself “I wanted to go somewhere where thinking things like, ‘I hate you.’ I I would be exposed to different valdon’t want to be that person.” ues than the ones I grew up with,” Ultimate was different, however. he said. “Perhaps a little more col“Half the time I’m playing, nei- lectivistic, with less of an emphasis ther team remembers what the score on individual attainment and more is, because they’re just having fun, on serving the whole. These are all and they enjoy playing competitive stereotypes, because I don’t actualUltimate, and the object isn’t to win ly know the place that well, but my at all costs,” he said. sense is that it’s going to be a very different experience, and I’m hoping LOOKING TO GROW that’ll give me greater perspective on Throughout our conversation, the ones I’ve had here.” DeButts consistently showed this He said he still doesn’t know same sort of thoughtfulness about what he wants to do when he returns his own shortcomings. In fact, he from China. asked me whether I could highlight “I have a year there, and an ophis flaws in this profile. tional second year,” he said. “Then “There’s just a lot that I do bad- I’ll figure it out, go from there.” ly,” he said. “I’ve read these previous I asked him if he has any idea profiles. They’re always very flatter- what he wants his life to be like in 10 ing. But it would be great if mine or 20 years. looked at the flaws too, or somehow “I think people are going to be didn’t make me seem like an un- very important, being around people equivocally great person.” who are curious and who care,” he So what does he think his flaws said. “I don’t know what else beyond are? that, honestly.”
MAY 23, 2014 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • 25
PROFILE • ANDRE WANG
A Curtain Call for the Dancing Activist Andre Wang experiences the world with an inexhaustible positivity and the mind of both an artist and a scientist. — David Chang ’16 There is no simple way to describe Yilin Andre Wang — he refuses to be categorized. He’s served as a senator in the Association of Amherst Students for two years. He’s served as a co-chair of Pride Alliance and the Chinese Student Association. He was chosen to be the student speaker at TedXAmherstCollege. He wrote for The Amherst Student’s Arts & Living section for three years. Wang is a dancer, a choreographer, a researcher, a child prodigy, a leader, a trilingual, an openly gay male international student from China and a good friend. As Political Science Professor Javier Corrales put it, “Andre is an Amherst gem.” CHILDHOOD IN CHINA Wang started learning English when he was six years old, but he said he didn’t get too serious about it until a few years later. Wang was a shy kid, and his parents, who were political activists in China with a progressive attitude toward their child’s education, tried to expose him to different activities in order to encourage him to break out of his shell. One of them was a summer camp designed for teenagers learning English. Wang was nine at the time. “Because of the age difference, I was bullied a lot in the camp, which was not a fun experience if you’re by yourself, and you couldn’t communicate your ideas. I came back with the desire to learn English. It was bad, but also good in the way that it motivated me,” Wang said. Two years after that, Wang’s English was good enough for him to be chosen by his school and his province to participate in a hugely popular English speaking competition in China. “I was a part of their bilingual program, and they wanted to show everyone that it worked. I didn’t want to go because I wanted to participate in the math competition, which I had been waiting for years. I refused to go to the English competition. Then the Bureau of Education got involved, so for a month, I received special training for the competition,” Wang said. After he placed third in the com-
petition, he became a minor celebrity in China. “People would recognize me on the streets. I was invited to do all these talks and panels, and one time it took me half an hour to sign autographs because the line was so long. This then further catapulted me into learning English because there was that expectation that I was ahead of everybody else,” he said. The competition undoubtedly served as a pivotal point in Wang’s life. He revealed that it not only helped him with English but also opened his eyes to his relationship with instituations. “That’s when I experienced bureaucracy for the first time,” Wang said. “I felt like my personal opinion didn’t matter at all. I was a rebellious kid, and that really took things to the next level. I started thinking more critically about my relationship with institutions and authorities.” Young Wang’s mind continued to expand under his parents’ support and his undying curiosity. “I grew up in a household where my interest was never dampened,” Wang said. “It was always encouraged. So, that translated into my interest in a wide variety of things. I never thought about whether something was appropriate for my age or not. As long as I wanted to do it, I could. This has been a consistent theme as I was growing up. I just want to pick what I want to learn.” He first discovered Amherst when he was presenting higher education institutions through a high school radio station. Needless to say, the open curriculum at Amherst was a huge draw for Wang. A few years later, he applied and was accepted. ACTIVISM AT AMHERST When Wang came to Amherst, he was concerned about the lack of awareness and understanding of Chinese culture and politics on campus. This concern motivated him to become the co-chair of what is now known as the Chinese Student Association.
He also joined Pride Alliance on his first day and eventually became a co-chair. “Acceptance and understanding are different things, and people don’t necessarily know what LGBT students’ lives are like on campus,” Wang said. “It really takes personal interactions to do that, but not all people have very close LGBT-identified friends, so I thought I should promote a social understanding.” Wang, with the help of others, successfully lobbied for gender-neutral student housing at Amherst in 2012. Later on, motivated by his dissatisfaction with what was going on with student life, he joined the AAS senate. Wang said he learned valuable lessons from leading so many student groups. “If I learned anything from the experiences, it’s that there is a lot to be done,” Wang said. “I think this is an ongoing question I’ll ask myself: what kind of preparations would go into making an action work, and how do we measure success based on what we have done? I think that in part informs my decision to go into academia to do research, because one of the conclusions I’ve come to is that we, a lot of times, do things without really understanding what the implications are and without knowing what works best.” DANCE LESSONS Wang’s passion for performance began when he was in kindergarten. His mother signed him up for a dance class, and she tried to get him into different activities in order to help him become less shy. “So that was the start of performance arts in my life,” Wang said. “Everything I did was all very stage-related. But it became less of something to change my personality with and more of an avenue where I could be somebody else. It was like activating a different side of me that I’m too reluctant to show, the side of me that’s probably more emotional, more vulnerable and more dramatic. I was a good kid, and there are many things associated with that in Chinese culture. I guess it was
• Wang is known among his friends as an elegant dancer and a brilliant choreographer. His passion for dance has played a large role his experience at Amherst.
26 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • MAY 23, 2014
Photos courtesy of Risalat Khan ’13
• “This young man is indeed omnipresent on our campus. Sometimes, I feel he is almost also … OMNIPOTENT.” — Nancy Yun Tang ’14 sort of my way of rebelling.” He took up drama, dance, vocals, instrumentals, martial arts and more. By the end of high school, Wang had done pretty much everything that could be done on stage. Throughout his time at Amherst, Wang remained very active in the Five College Dance Department, working on four to five productions per semester. It’s not hard to tell that Wang’s passionate about dance. It’s something that he has been engaged in deeply and personally. Naturally, it’s become a significant part of his Amherst education. “In modern dance, my training deals with awareness of the external and the internal environment,” Wang said. “Dance is about so much more than just technique. It’s a way of seeing things. If you’re angry, be angry. If you’re tired, be tired. It’s not about correction. It’s about awareness and self-knowledge. I also learned what effort means. When I think about effort, for example, how much effort I put into my academic work, I start thinking less in terms of simply resting well and doing work, but more in terms of finding pleasure in the effort. When I go through challenges, I become more resilient.” EXPERIENCE AND IDENTITY Wang has a peculiar definition of identity. He views it “less as a label and more as a functional, malleable property.” Certainly, Amherst has influenced it immensely. “The many facets of humanity are subject to where we are and what is around us. Amherst broadens me, and that in turn broadens who I am. That means I’m better equipped to deal with changes and ambiguities. I guess this is like the modern value that my education has given me. Because it has made me a bigger person, I feel more comfortable now graduating and going into the larger world with the knowledge that the upgrade, in terms of identity, that I get from Amherst would allow me to deal with those changes and ambiguities,” Wang said. A crucial part of his identity is his sexuality. As a previously closeted gay male from China, Wang expressed that his life at Amherst has been, in part, a liberating experience.
“Before coming to the States, I was pretty closeted in China. So I made a resolution to myself that when I came to the United States, I was going to come here as an openly gay person. And I’m glad I did. I feel like it was a very steep learning curve. You kind of learn it through observation and trial and error. Even though learning about it included many awkward or weird moments, I had the relief that at least I was able to live out this aspect of my identity that I’ve known for a long time,” Wang said. The Amherst experience is a collection of moments, and those moments are rarely as we imagine them beforehand. Wang mentioned two moments specifically. “After performing the guest artist work in March, I thought that was probably the best performance I have ever done in my life. I was very proud,” Wang said. “Then there are moments that I had thought would mean a lot to me but didn’t. I’d been dreaming about the moment that I would turn in my thesis. I thought it would be tremendous. But what actually happened was, I submitted my thesis at 10:47 in the morning, just walked out and went to my bio class. It was just like any other thing I’ve done.” So it goes. We are constantly, and unpredictably, let down, surprised, disappointed and ecstatic. But in the end, we are all transformed in ways that we can not foresee. “There are a lot of moments I remember. They’re not distilled. They don’t have a specific meaning attached to them. But I remember them, and they’re a part of the larger Amherst experience. Amherst has changed the course of my life probably more than anything else,” Wang said. “I look forward to being away from Amherst and looking back at it to see what it means for me. An optimistic way to look at this would be that in that sense I’ll never leave Amherst. Now that I have the Amherst experience, it’ll be with me wherever I go.” Upon graduating, Wang will travel the country with his parents for two weeks. Then he plans to continue his research on stereotype, prejudice, decision-making, deception detection and the psychology of sexuality as a social psychology Ph.D. candidate at UC Davis.
AARON TOOMEY • PROFILE
Four-Point Play: Toomey’s Tenure in Purple Toomey led Amherst hoops to three consecutive NESCAC championships, a national title and broke the program record in points. What’s next for the point guard? — Thomas Kleyn ’16 Conquering adversity is always a part of life for athletes. The greatest players in sports have an extraordinary ability to motivate themselves, overcome obstacles and capitalize upon every opportunity that comes their way. Div. III National Player of the Year Aaron Toomey, senior point guard on the men’s basketball team, has certainly had to conquer some adversity during his basketball career — he ended up at Amherst after a high school injury left him unable to play Div. I ball. And yet, Toomey never let any injury stop him. He has made the most of his four years here at Amherst, leading the team to three consecutive NESCAC titles and a national title in 2013. A YOUNG SPORTS FANATIC When he was younger, Toomey played a lot of sports, and that’s all he ever wanted to do. “Whether it be with a basketball, soccer ball or baseball, I was always playing a sport,” he reflected on his childhood. “My dad and my brother were my biggest influences growing up. My dad got me into sports, and I instantly loved them. My brother, who is a year older than me, was always bigger and stronger and always challenged me to be better even if he didn’t realize it.” Toomey had many different sources of influence growing up and over the course of his basketball ca-
reer. Toomey said that growing up, he looked up to Chris Paul for what he does both on and off the court. Like Toomey, Paul is slightly undersized and plays point guard. “He handles himself so well off the court and is a top three NBA player at the same time,” Toomey said. “I’ve always loved watching him play.” Toomey’s journey to Amherst did not come exactly the way he envisioned it. Between his junior and senior years of high school, Toomey broke his hand, which proved to be a frustrating setback in the recruiting process. “It was the worst possible time to go down with an injury,” Toomey said. Rather than pursue his dream of playing Div. I basketball, Toomey was forced to watch from the sidelines as many of his teammates earned scholarships to big name schools. Playing Div. III basketball became Toomey’s Plan B. Making the most of the hand he was dealt, Toomey decided to play for Amherst. He said that he was attracted to the college both for its basketball program and for its strong academics. “It was a tough decision for me, but my family kept reminding me that nowhere matched what Amherst could offer me,” he said.
THE ROAD TO A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP Like any incoming college firstyear, Toomey was eager to find ways to prove himself to coach David Hixon ’75 and the rest of the staff during his first season. His big moment came during his first appearance in the storied rivalry between Amherst and Williams. Toomey recalled that every Amherst-Williams game in which he played would draw a huge crowd. He said that the “great atmosphere” of an Amherst-Williams game always brought out the best in both sides. “It’s the greatest rivalry I have ever been a part of,” Toomey said. “Every time the two schools meet, no matter the sport, it is special.” After taking a couple minutes to adjust to the pace and physicality that first Amherst-Williams game, Toomey poured in 23 points and added six assists. It was an auspicious start to an extraordinary basketball career. That year, Toomey was voted NESCAC Rookie of the Year. By the end of his four years on the team, he would go on to stand alone as the all-time leading scorer in Amherst College history. Toomey spent his first two seasons at Amherst developing his game and progressing as a player both mentally and physically. “Aaron was a really tough competitor,” Hixon said. “Even in practices, he hated to lose, no matter the drill
• ”Nothing matches winning a national championship,” Toomey said. “ The moment the final buzzer went off, emotions started pouring out.”
Photos courtesy of the Office of Public Affairs
• Toomey with baskeball coach David Hixon ‘75 on senior night in LeFrak Gymnasium. or contest.” By the time junior year came around, Toomey was ready to start creating his legacy. Coming into the year, the team lost five seniors from a solid squad that had previously fallen a few rounds short of the national championship game. The team started the year with five wins and zero losses, but proceeded to lose two of their next three games. After a team meeting called by the captains, Amherst began a historic run to the national title game with Toomey leading the way. Hixon described Toomey as a “coach on the floor.” He recalled that Toomey was “always coming to the bench during any stoppage” to ask coaches if there was anything at all they saw that could be done to make the team better. The then-junior averaged 17.4 points, five assists and 4.7 rebounds per game, earning All-American honors from the National Basketball Coaches Association. He would later take home Div. III National Player of the Year honors, selected from a pool of hundreds of players across the country. The team headed to Atlanta for the national championship game, playing before a crowd of close to 7,000 fans. Their opponents, Mary-Hardin Baylor, put up a good fight right up until the end, when Toomey hit a game-sealing three-pointer that secured Amherst’s second national championship in the school’s history. The Jeffs ended up winning 87-70. “Nothing matches winning a national championship,” Toomey said. “The moment the final buzzer went off, emotions started pouring out.” Toomey said that the close bonds between him and his teammates made their success all the more rewarding. “Being able to celebrate an accomplishment like that with my best friends was the best feeling ever,” he said. “We are a family,” he added. “Both present and past players. It’s a huge family that will always be connected in a special way.” Hixon said that Toomey was always aware of his teammates while on the court and was generous to his teammates when he needed to be. “Although he ended as our leading scorer, Aaron was about winning first, and if a teammate who could make a shot was open, Aaron would hit him for the easier basket,” Hixon said. “If not, Aaron would find a way to create
a game winner himself !” Toomey said he appreciated being able to share the championship with Hixon, saying that he “could not have asked for a better person to play for the last four years.” “Hix is one of the best there is,” Toomey said. “At any level.” WRAPPING UP AN IMPRESSIVE FOUR YEARS Coming back for his senior year after the championship, Toomey’s expectations were high for the team once again, and he certainly did his part. The senior averaged 20.5 points per game and led the NESCAC conference with 6.4 assists per game. He was NESCAC Player of the Year for a second straight year, making him only the second person in league history to earn this honor, after Andrew Olson ‘08, another Amherst player who accomplished the feat in 2008. As a team, Amherst went 27-3 before falling to archrival Williams in the national semifinals. Regardless, Toomey’s time on the court at Amherst left him as one of the most decorated players in school history. And Toomey has no regrets. “Amherst basketball has become a national power, and I was extremely happy to be able to be a part of that tradition,” he said. After he graduates this year, Toomey will certainly be missed. “Aaron Toomey is one of the finest players to don an Amherst uniform in the 43 years I’ve been connected with the program,” Hixon said. Unsurprisingly, Toomey does not plan to give up basketball just yet. After graduating this spring, he plans on continuing his basketball career overseas in Europe. Last season, another Amherst standout, Willy Workman ’13, was able to make the roster of a professional team in Israel; Toomey hopes to follow in his footsteps. Until then, though, the star of the Amherst basketball team for the past four years is enjoying a little break from the sport. In his free time, Toomey is a huge Cubs fan (unfortunately for him) and loves to play golf. Over the course of the next few weeks, he will take some time to reflect on his time at Amherst both academically and athletically, before taking on a new set of challenges with his overseas career. “I am very excited about the process and look forward to the challenges ahead,” he said.
MAY 23, 2014 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • 27
The Year in Sports
FALL SEASON FIELD HOCKEY Riding a 12-game win streak into the NESCAC tournament, the field hockey team’s unbeaten stretch was snapped by Middlebury in the 59th minute of the conference semifinals, halting their postseason run earlier than they had both expected and hoped. After suffering two overtime losses to start the season, the Jeffs bounced back to win 13 straight, featuring seven shut-outs at the hands of goalie Rachel Tannenbaum ’15. With a 1.71 goals against average, the junior was honored with a spot on the NFHCA National Academic Squad and All-NESCAC Second Team. Despite their 13-3 record, the Jeffs failed to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. However, there were still a number of bright spots for the team this season, including a 3-2 win over Trinity in Amherst’s regular season finale as well as 4-3 win over Wesleyan. Senior Krista Zsitvay led the offense with 12 goals, 13 assists and 37 points — a team-high and fifth best in the conference — while Madeline Tank ’15 connected for 13 goals and 30 points on the season. With Zsitvay graduating, Tank, along with sophomores Katie Paolano and Annika Nygren, look to lead the Jeffs to another top seed in the conference next season. FOOTBALL Playing on the newly renovated Pratt Field, the football team brought home a share of the NESCAC title this past fall season, splitting the honor with Middlebury and Wesleyan. The Jeffs got off to a 4-0 start before suffering their first and only loss of the season at the hands of Wesleyan during Homecoming weekend. The Jeffs bounced back from the setback by winning three straight — featuring a nail-biting come-frombehind 17-16 win against Trinity during Family Weekend and a 20-7 victory over archrival Williams. The team’s reliable defense proved to be the one of the best
in the conference, leading the NESCAC in interceptions (20), sacks (22) and fewest points per game allowed (11.8). Defensive backs Landrus Lewis ’14E and Jimmy Fairfield-Son ’16 both earned NESCAC Player of the Week Honors, helping head coach E.J. Mills notch his 100th win of his career. Offensively, Max Lippe ’15 threw 10 touchdowns for 1,459 yards, including the game-winner to Wade McNamara ’14 with only 33 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter against Colby. Senior Jake O’Malley and junior Gene Garay led the receivers with a combined eight touchdowns and 816 yards on the season. On Sept. 20 next fall, Amherst will begin its quest for back-to-back conference titles in its season opener against Bates. WOMEN’S SOCCER The women’s soccer team went 10-4-3 this past season, earning an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. After being ousted by Trinity in the NESCAC Quarterfinals, the team topped Springfield 1-0 in the first round of NCAA’s thanks to a score off a penalty kick from Megan Kim ’16 — one of her 10 goals on the season. The Jeffs would fall to tenth-ranked Messiah 2-0 in the next round of the tournament to end their post-season run. Goalkeeper Holly Burwick was second in the NESCAC in save percentage (0.887), goals against (8) and goals-against average (0.48). Kim, along with Sarah Duffy ’14, led the offense, with each scoring two gamewinning goals on the season. In the team’s season opener against Middlebury, Kim scored the lone goal in overtime off of Burwick’s clear to give Amherst the 1-0 victory. Losing only Duffy and Hannah Cooper ’14 from the starting lineup, the Jeffs have a strong returning squad to put them in contention for the NESCAC title next fall. MEN’S SOCCER With yet another almost perfect season, the fifth-ranked men’s soccer
28 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • MAY 23, 2014
team went 18-1-2 this past fall, ending the season with the team’s only loss of the year. Handing Amherst a heartbreaking 1-0 loss, archrival Williams sent the Jeffs packing in the NCAA Elite Eight for the second year in a row. Despite not advancing to the Final Four, the Jeffs still have much to be proud of this season, including a 1-0 victory over the Ephs earlier in the fall to clinch the team’s thirdconsecutive NESCAC Title. Captain Max Fikke ’14 scored the winning goal and earned NESCAC Player of the Week Honors for his performance. Fikke also had the game-winner in double overtime in the team’s regular season game against the Ephs. The senior was recognized with First Team All-NESCAC Honors. Sophomore goalkeeper Thomas Bull was also named First Team All-NESCAC and was selected as the league’s top goalkeeper for his conference-best 0.46 goals against average, allowing only eight scores in over 1,550 minutes. Bull and Fikke were also named All-Region First Team along with seniors Julien Aoyama and Ben Norton. Sophomores Greg Singer and Nico Pascual-Leone led the offense for the Jeffs with a combined 15 goals and 13 assists. Notably, Pascual-Leone scored the winning goal off an assist from Singer with just over a minute remaining against Western New England. First-year Chris Martin also made significant offensive contributions, scoring eight goals and three gamewinners. Next fall, Div. III New England Coach of the Year Justin Serpone and the Jeffs hope to capture the elusive National Championship. VOLLEYBALL The volleyball team rebounded from a mediocre 2012 season (14-9) with a 20-8 record this past fall, going 7-3 in the NESCAC and advancing to the conference semifinals for the first time since 2010. The young squad, led by captain Lauren Antion ’15, won the Johnson & Wales Invitational in September
and placed second at the Springfield Invitational, where head coach Sue Everden notched her 600th career win. In October, the team recorded a nine-match winning streak thanks to multiple first-years making a big impact in their debut seasons. Maggie Danner ’17 led the team in kills with 315, earning First Team All-NESCAC honors. Fellow firstyear Nicole Gould had 286 kills, while Nicole Carter ’16 had a teamhigh 823 assists. Sophomore Katie Warshaw led the conference in digs (458) and Antion had 70 blocks on the season to spearhead the defense. With no graduating seniors, the Jeffs hope to further improve in the fall of 2014. CROSS COUNTRY Men After a slow start, the men’s cross country team ended its season on a high note, finishing third out of 46 teams at the ECAC Championships and eighth out of 50 at NCAA Regionals. Dan Crowley ’16, Greg Turissini ’15 and Charlie Reighard ’14 led the pack at NCAA Regionals, as the trio placed in the top 40 runner out of over 350 competitors. Crowley also represented the Jeffs at the NCAA Div. III Championships for his second straight appearance, placing 175th out of 275. KC Fussell ’15 followed his stellar sophomore season with a second place finish at the Little Three Championships. Crowley was close behind in third, while Turissini and Reighard placed seventh and 14th, respectively. These performances were not enough to push the Jeffs past the eventual champ, Williams. A number of first-years made a name for themselves this season, as Kevin Connors, Ben Fielder, Raymond Meijer and Steven Lucey all had top finishes over the course of the fall. Notably, Meijer placed 11th at Little Three’s and 13th overall at the Purple Valley Classic. He and the rest of the class of 2017 look to step up next season as the team says goodbye to Greenstein, Reighard and Alvaro Morales ’14.
Women The women’s cross country team began their season winning the Smith Invitational title, as Lexi Sinclair ’16 brought home the individual title and teammate Lizzy Briskin ’15 finished in a close second. Briskin would lead the Jeffs again at NCAA Regionals, earning the Jeffs top finish with 36th place overall to help the team place eighth out of 53. The junior captain was also the team’s top finisher at both the NEICAAA Championships and NESCAC Championships. Cat Lowdon ’17 had a stellar debut season, including a 12th-place finish at Little Three’s, and fellow first-year Sophie Currin was right behind her for 15th. The two also competed at NCAA Regionals, placing in the top quarter of competitors. Losing only four seniors to graduation, Amy Dao, Jasia Kaulbach, Brooke Kirkham and Lisa Walker, the team looks to continue its success in the fall. WOMEN’S GOLF Led by first-year Jamie Gracie, the women’s golf team had six topfive tournament finishes this past year. Gracie placed sixth with a two day total of 156 at the NYU Invitational to give Amherst fifth out of 11 in the team’s first competition of the fall. At the Williams Fall Classic in October, the first-year claimed the individual title with a two-day total of 150, and the team placed fourth out of 15. In the final competition of the fall, the Ann S. Batchelder Invitational, the team finished second behind Williams. Captain Sooji Choi ’14 notched fourth place with a two-day total of 158 — her season best. Gracie was a couple strokes behind her, shooting a 160 for sixth place, while Kristen Lee ’14 and Devyn Gardner ’16 both shot their season bests (165 and 166) for 12th and 14th, respectively. In the spring, the Jeffs’ best performance came at the Jack Leaman Invitational, where they placed fourth thanks to a fourth place finish from Gracie (158), 10th from Choi (161), 18th from Lee (164) and 25th from Gardner.
the national title in long jump at the NCAA Div. III Championships — just the sixth individual national title in program history. At NCAA’s, Bates also placed third in the 60 meter and sixth in the 200 meter. With Bates graduating, both Blake and firstyear Kiana Herold hope to build off of their impressive debut seasons next year.
Photo courtesy of The Office of Public Affairs
Photo courtesy of Chloe McKenzie ’14
WINTER SEASON WOMEN’S BASKETBALL After starting the season with a 14-game win streak, the women’s basketball team suffered its earliest NCAA tournament exit since 2008. The Jeffs went 26-4 this past year with their only losses coming at less-than-ideal timing. The first was against Tufts (63-56), which snapped their opening winning stretch, while the second was a 65-63 thriller at the hands of Williams. In the postseason, the Jumbos crushed Amherst’s dream of notching a fifth-consecutive NESCAC title, though the Jeffs still received an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. After knocking off Springfield and Hartwick in the first two rounds, the Jeffs lost 74-71 in overtime to Ithaca in the Elite Eight. As a young squad with no seniors, the team was led by first-year and NESCAC Rookie of the Year Ali Doswell and co-captains Megan Robertson ’15 and Cheyenne Pritchard ’16. Sophomore Marley Giddins had a breakout season, averaging 11.4 points and 21.4 minutes per game while improving upon her 2.6 points and 9.2 minutes per game averages from last season. Giddins hopes to maintain her newfound position in the starting lineup next season. MEN’S BASKETBALL The fourth-ranked men’s basketball team’s quest for back-to-back national titles fell just short this winter, as archrival Williams routed the Jeffs 98-69 in the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. The Ephs held National Player of the Year Aaron Toomey ’14 to a mere three points, but this performance did not detract from the senior’s stellar year and career. Toomey averaged 19.9 points per game, third best in the conference, while he and Tom Killian ’14 (15.1 PPG) led the Jeffs to a 27-4 record this season. In the NESCAC finals, Toomey recorded a triple-double, while Killian scored a careerhigh 31 points to notch the team’s third straight conference title. In November, the team also won the Ken Wright ’52 Memorial Invitational Tournament with wins over Newbury and Nichols. Notably, head coach David Hixon also earned his 700th career win in December. Sophomore Connor Green ’16 was a major contributor to the Jeffs’ success, averaging 17.9 points per game with 17 blocks on the season. Green and fellow sophomore Ben Pollack will look to step into leadership roles next winter with Toomey, Killian and David Kalema ’14 graduating from the starting five. MEN’S ICE HOCKEY The men’s hockey team’s season ended in heartbreak this past winter, losing a 3-2 double overtime thriller to Bowdoin in the NESCAC finals. Amherst went 12-4-2 in the conference, marked by two wins over Williams and two over 11th-ranked Trinity, and the second-seeded Jeffs advanced to the championship for just the third time in 13 years.
In the NESCAC semifinals against the Ephs, senior captain Andrew Kurlandski netted two goals, including the game-winner, to lead the Jeffs to a 3-1 victory. Kurlandski ends his career with a total of 38 goals and 32 assists. Fellow senior captain Brian Safstrom also had a stellar final season, wrapping up his college career with 33 goals and 31 assists. Sophomores Dave Cunningham and Conor Brown also made significant contributions for the team with Cunningham protecting the net and Brown creating scoring opportunities. Notably, Cunningham was second in the conference for lowest goals against average with 1.94 and third in the conference for save percentage (.929) — a huge component in helping Coach Jack Arena ’83 earn his 400th win this past winter. Though they will be losing Kurlandski, Safstrom, Elliot Bostrom and Ryan Edwards, the Jeffs have a talented rising senior class to fill their shoes. WOMEN’S ICE HOCKEY The women’s hockey team had their season end in disappointment this season, falling 3-2 to seventh-seeded Colby in the NESCAC quarterfinals. The Mules got off to a fast start, leading 2-0, before Amherst responded with goals from Erin Martin ’16 and Tori Salmon ’15 to tie things up at two. However, Colby would score the final goal with just over a minute remaining, sending the Jeffs home. Amherst finished its season 13-7-5, featuring a 6-2 win over Williams and a 3-1 win over Trinity. Salmon led the offense, finishing with 16 goals — fourth best in the conference — while Erin Martin had 10 goals and 10 assists on the season. Junior forwards Emily Flom and Madeline Tank also had significant offensive contributions for the Jeffs, both with six goals apiece and a combined 11 assists. Notably, Flom scored the game-winning goal for Amherst in their game against Bowdoin at the end of the season. The team will be saying goodbye to goalkeeper Kerri Stuart, who was third in the conference for lowest goals against average (1.96), but first-year Yuna Evans is ready to assume the starting position after playing in eight games this year and recording 134 saves on a .957 save percentage. INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD Women For the first time in program history, the women’s indoor track & field team were ECAC Champions this past season, finishing first out of 62 teams. Karen Blake ’17 and Naomi Bates ’14 led the Jeffs, finishing third and fourth in the 60 meter dash, respectively. Bates also placed first in the long jump, setting an ECAC record that had previously been set in 1985. Earlier in the season at the NEICAAA Championships, Bates set the program record in the long jump as well as in the 60-meter dash. The senior followed these performances by claiming
Men Led by senior captain Matt Melton, the men’s indoor track & field team got off to a fast start with a second place finish at the Tufts Invitational and a fourth place finish at the Springfield Invite. The Jeffs followed these performances by earning sixth at the NE Div. III Championships, where Melton won the 400 meter dash and the team of Jeff Seelaus, Alex Durkee ’15, Kevin Connors ’17 and KC Fussell ’15 won the 4,000 meter distance medley. Sophomore Dan Crowley continued his success from the cross country season, finishing runner-up in the 3000-meter run at the ECAC Championships. To end their season, the Jeffs competed in two events at the NCAA Div. III Championships with Melton placing 12th in the 400 meter, and the senior then teamed up with Romey Sklar ’15, Brent Harrison ’16 and Greg Turissini ’15 for ninth place in the distance medley relay. SQUASH Women The women’s squash team finished their season as Walker Cup Champions this past winter to cap off an 11-9 season. In the Division ‘C’ finals, the Jeffs topped Franklin & Marshall 6-3 for the second time of the season. Just the day before, Amherst edged NESCAC foe Bowdoin 5-4 in the semifinals thanks to first-year Tiana Palmer Poroner who came back to win the deciding match after being down two games to none. Senior captain Lena Rice and sophomores Khushy Aggarwal, Corri Johnson and Taryn Clary all recorded wins on the day in the sixth through ninth spots to help secure the victory. The bottom of the lineup proved to be extremely reliable for the Jeffs, as Clary and Rice both ended their seasons with winning records. Against Middlebury earlier in the season, Rice recorded the only win for the Jeffs, while Clary had the only W against Williams at the Little Three Championships. Clary and Rice along with Meyha Sud ’16 and Palmer-Poroner notched the team’s four wins in their 5-4 loss against Hamilton in the NESCAC Championships, where Amherst finished sixth. Men The 22nd-ranked men’s squash team had its ups and downs this past season, as the team went 7-12. Noah Browne ’16 once again led the Jeffs, playing in the No. 1 spot for his second straight season. On numerous occasions, the sophomore recorded the only win for Amherst, including victories over Yale’s Kah Wah Cheong and Franklin & Marshall’s nationally-ranked Abhishek Pradhan — both five set matches. Browne competed at the Div. III Invitational, where he advanced to the tournament finals before falling to Taylor Foehl of Williams. He also qualified to play at the CSA Individual Championship, and though he lost to Ramit Tandon of Columbia in the first round, his accomplishments this past season earned him All-NESCAC First Team Honors. Perhaps the biggest win of the season for the Jeffs came in the Pioneer Valley Invitational when they upset George Washington 5-4 thanks to wins from Browne, Max Kardon ’15, Jeremy Van ’17, Darian Ehsani ’17 and Stephen Cacouris ’16. Graduating just senior captain David Kerr from the lineup, the relatively young Amherst squad looks to bounce back next season under the captainship of
Scott DeSantis ’15 and Alex Southmayd ’15. Swimming and Diving Men The men’s swimming and diving team went 6-1 in dual-meet competition this past season — its only setback coming from MIT. After outswimming Union, Colby, Wesleyan and Middlebury, the team’s success culminated in a thrilling 127-115 victory over Williams. In the final event of the meet, Conor Deveney ’15, Tyler Hampton ’15, Tyler Bulakul ’14 and Connor Sholtis ’15 out-tapped the Williams’ team by 1.53 seconds in the 400 free relay to claim the win. However, the Ephs edged Amherst in the NESCAC championships, giving the Jeffs their fourth straight runner-up finish. Bulakul and Sholtis also went on to qualify for the NCAA Div. III championships, where Bulakul placed fifth in 100 fly and sixth in the 200 fly, and Sholtis placed 13th in the 100 free and seventh in the 200 free. Jeff Anderson ’16 also competed in the 200 fly, finishing eighth, and captain Parker Moody ’14 placed 14th in the 500 free. Diver Colin White ’14 ended his career on a high note, capturing the 2014 NESCAC title in the 1-meter. Women Returning to the pool as defending NESCAC Champions, the women’s swimming and diving failed to repeat their title this season, placing second behind Williams for the fifth time in six years. Sophomore sensation Emily Hyde followed up her impressive first-year campaign by bringing home the national title in the 200 yard IM at the NCAA Championships. Hyde also placed tenth in the 100-yard backstroke and earned AllConference honors in a league-high six events. At the NESCAC Championships, Hyde placed first in the 200-yard IM, 100-yard breaststroke, and 200-yard breaststroke. She also teamed up with Sabrina Lee ’15, Sarah Conklin ’16 and Lulu Belak ‘14 for another first place finish in the 400yard Medley Relay. The relay squad also placed fifth at NCAA’s. Diver Lizzy Linsmayer ’14 was named AllConference in the 1-meter and 3-meter dive, and the senior placed third at NCAA’s to wrap up her college career.
Photo courtesy of Peter Mack ’15
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
MAY 23, 2014 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • 29
Photo courtesy of Janna Jossainte ’17
SPRING SEASON BASEBALL The baseball team returned to NCAA Div. III Regionals this spring for the second straight season. After qualifying for the NESCAC Championships as the second seed in the west division, the Jeffs saw their chances of a repeat conference title crumble before their eyes, as they lost 9-5 to Tufts and 4-2 to Bates the next day. However, the team’s 30-11 record earned them an at-large bid for NCAA Regionals in the Ithaca Region. Third-seeded Amherst took down sixth-seeded Stevens 4-3 on the first day of play and upset second-seeded Kean 7-1 on the second. The Jeffs’ postseason run came to an end when they lost two one-run games to Cortland and Kean. Catcher Conner Gunn ’16 and pitcher John Cook ’15 were both named to the All-Tournament team for their performances. This season Cook boasted a 5-3 record with a 1.95 ERA. Seniors Dylan Driscoll and Quinn Saunders-Kolberg also had successful seasons on the mound, going a combined 12-3. Notably, senior Fred Shepard threw just the third no-hitter in program history to give head coach Brian Hamm his 100th career win. Against Fontbonne, Shepard pitched seven innings, striking out four and walking two. The team will be losing nine seniors, including Taiki Kasuga, Alex Hero, Driscoll and Saunders-Kolberg, so Gunn and fellow sophomore hope to step up to the plate and continue their hot bats for Amherst next spring. MEN’S GOLF After a strong fall season, the men’s golf team spring campaign fell flat. Led by James Line ’16, the Jeffs qualified for the NESCAC Championships in the fall, placing third out of the ten teams in the conference. However, the team couldn’t seem to find its rhythm come spring, finishing last by over 30 strokes in the conference championships.
Captain Nicholas Koh ’14 had Amherst’s top finish at 12th, as he shaved off three strokes from day one to day two, while Line, Josh Moser ’15, Harrison Marick ’17 and Jarvis Sill ’15 brought up the rear of the competition. Despite this less-than-stellar performance, the season did have a bright spot when Moser brought home the individual crown at the Westport Hampton Inn Invitational, helping the Jeffs clinch the team title as well. Line finished seventh with a twoday total of 159, and first-year Liam Fine earned tenth place to round out the top-10. The team will be losing two seniors, Koh and Erik Hansen, but the returning golfers will look to get a better shot at the conference title next Spring. WOMEN’S LACROSSE With just two losses to date, both at the hands of NESCAC foe Trinity, the fifth-ranked women’s lacrosse team is currently sitting pretty in the Final Four of the NCAA tournament, where they will face second-ranked Salisbury on Saturday, May 24 at 4 p.m. After jumping out to a 14-0 start — the best in program history — Trinity handed the Jeffs a 7-4 loss in the team’s regular season finale. As the No. 2 seed in the NESCAC tournament, Amherst powered past Bowdoin and Williams, both for the second time this season, before squaring off against Trinity in the conference finals. The team would see the same fate, this time losing by a score of 10-7. However, the Jeffs nearly spotless record earned them an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament, where their success has continued thus far, with wins over Bridgewater State, York and TCNJ. With head coach Chris Paradis at the helm and senior captains Krista Zsitvay, Alex Philie and Elizabeth Ludlow leading the offense, Amherst hopes to bring home its second ever national championship.
Photo courtesy of Megan Robertson ’15
MEN’S LACROSSE Coming off of a disappointing 2013 season (5-10), the men’s lacrosse team turned things around for 2014 with a 15-5 record. The Jeffs advanced to the NESCAC Finals for the first time in program history and also earned their first-ever NCAA Tournament bid. Quinn Moroney had a stand-out sophomore season, racking up 112 points from 80 assists and 32 goals. The sophomore along with Kane Haffey ’16 and senior captain Devin Acton led the offense, as the team scored 277 total goals this season and averaged 14 goals per game. Though they didn’t capture the NESCAC title, the Jeffs proved that they are true contenders, as they tied the score up at nine in the third period of the NESCAC finals before Tufts pulled away for its fifth straight crown. Amherst saw a similar course of events in the second round of the NCAA tournament against ninthranked Union. Once again, the Jeffs had a 9-9 tie in the third before Union went on an 8-2 run to send the Jeffs packing. Next season, the Jeffs will be losing Acton and fellow senior Aaron
30 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • MAY 23, 2014
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
Mathias, and the team will continue to turn to Moroney and Haffey for their consistent offense. OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD Men The men’s outdoor track and field team seemed to be constantly at the middle-of-thepack this past season, finishing eighth of 11 at the NESCAC Championships, 12th of 32 at Div. III New Englands and 35th out of 57 at the ECAC Championships. At ECACs, Dan Crowley placed fifth in the 5,000 meter for Amherst’s best finish of the meet. First-year Raymond Meijer also went the distance in the 10,000 meter for sixth place. Of note, at the NEICAA Outdoor Championships, Brent Harrison ’16, Steven Lucey ’17, Romey Sklar ’15 and Kevin Connors ’17 set a meet record with a time of 7:33.28 in the 4x800 relay. Senior captain Matt Melton continued the momentum from his indoor season with firstplace finish in the 400 meter dash at the Little Three Championships and a runner-up finish at Div. III New Englands. Women After finishing third at the Little Three Championships and eighth out of 11 at the NESCAC Championships, the women’s track and field team picked things up for the post season, finishing 11th out of 33 at Div. III New England Championships and 13th out of 61 in the ECAC Championships. Naomi Bates ’14 won the long jump and set a new program record with a 5.99 meter leap at the New England Championships. This record also marked the best jump in Div. III this season. Bates set two more program records at the NEICAA Championships in both the 100 and 200 meter dash. First-year Kiana Herold broke the program’s high jump record, as she cleared 1.70 meters for third place in the meet. Bates and Herold along with Karen Blake ’17 and Taylor Summers ’16 are set to compete in the NCAA Div. III Championships, hosted by Ohio Wesleyan, May 22-24. SOFTBALL The softball team failed to qualify for the NESCAC Championships for the second season in a row, going 6-6 in the conference. The season was a bumpy road for the Jeffs, as their longest win streak was only five games. The team opened with an 11-2 record but ended their season on a 6-6 skid. However, there were some highlights, including a 13-2 win over Williams that featured home runs from both Donna Leet ’15 and Brianna Cook ’16. The team also had back-to-back wins against Wesleyan in March thanks to a perfect weekend by senior Kaitlin Silkowitz. The team captain went 5-6, scoring six runs and batting in two. Junior Kelsey Ayers also had a successful season at the plate, batting 0.475 and knocking in 28 runs, as did first-year Alena Marovitz, who recorded 33 hits and three home runs in her rookie season. On the mound, Jackie Buechler ’17 led the way with a 12-6 record and 2.01 ERA. Fellow first-year and starting pitcher Lauren Tuiskula also had an impressive debut season with a 2.89 ERA and 4-2 record.
Photo courtesy of The Office of Public Affairs
WOMEN’S TENNIS It was yet another outstanding year for the women’s tennis team, going undefeated in the NESCAC and losing only three matches this spring — one of them being the NCAA Championship match to Emory. After powering past Middlebury in the NESCAC semifinals and Williams in the finals, the Jeffs captured their ninth conference title and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. With a first round bye, the team rolled past Endicott and MIT 5-0 in the second and third rounds, respectively. In the quarterfinals, they had little trouble against Carnegie Mellon with a 5-1 victory. The semifinals was another match-up that will go down in the record books of the storied Amherst-Williams rivalry. The Jeffs secured the three doubles matches, heading into singles with an important advantage. However, the Ephs would not go down easily, as they responded with four straight singles wins to take the 4-3 lead. Sarah Montegagudo tied things up at four all with a 7-6, 6-4 after being down 5-0 in the first set of her match. The deciding match fell upon senior Gabby Devlin in the second singles spot. After splitting the first two sets 6-7, 6-3, the third was headed to a tiebreaker to determine which team would advance to the NCAA finals. Delvin led 8-7 in the tiebreaker when her opponent, Linda Shin doublefaulted on the final point, giving Amherst the victory. The Jeffs would go on to face top-ranked Emory in the finals, where they lost 5-1, ending their championship run and settling for their third runner-up finish in the past six years.
MILESTONES Congratulations to the following coaches for their historic accomplishments this past season: BRIAN HAMM (Baseball): 100 wins EJ MILLS (Football): 100 wins JUSTIN SERPONE (Men’s Soccer): 100 wins JACK ARENA (Men’s Hockey): 400 wins SUE EVERDEN (Volleyball): 600 wins DAVID HIXON (Men’s Basketball): 700 wins Congratulations to the following players on their NESCAC accolades this past season: Players of the Year AARON TOOMEY ’14 (Men’s Basketball) JOEY FRITZ ’14 (Men’s Tennis) MIKE ODENWAELDER ’16 (Baseball) ALEX PHILIE ’14 (Women’s Lacrosse) Rookies of the Year ALI DOSWELL ’17 (Women’s Basketball) KAREN BLAKE ’17 (Women’s Track & Field)
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our pledge is only as strong as Our willingness to hold ourselves and our community to it For more information contact Sexual Respect Education 413-542-5671 Sponsored by The Sexual Respect Task Force at Amherst College
MAY 23, 2014 • THE AMHERST STUDENT • 31
HIGHLIGHTS RECAPPING FIVE WAYS THE JEFFS TOTALLY KILLED IT THIS YEAR:
By Nicole Yang ’16
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
FOOTBALL With 3:57 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Trinity kicker missed the PAT to leave the score at 17-16 and preserve Amherst’s shot at a share of the conference title.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Scheiner ’15
What an amazing year it was for the Amherst men’s tennis team, losing just three times in nearly 40 matches and garnering a NESCAC and NCAA title along the way. It’s hard to think the season could have gone any better. The Jeffs got off to a fast start this year with senior co-captain Joey Fritz and sophomore Ben Fife teaming up to win the ITA Regional Championships in the fall. Unseeded, the duo, as Aaron Revzin ’16 put it, “shocked the nation” by taking down pairs from Middlebury, Tufts and Williams to advance to the finals. In the championship match, they topped Palmer Campbell and Brantner Jones of Midd. 6-7, 6-2, 10-7 to bring home the doubles’ crown. The short fall season also featured three dual-match victories over MIT, Johns Hopkins and Carnegie Mellon. Fritz posted an impressive 3-0 record in the top singles spot, and his position was the only part of the lineup that stayed unchanged through the spring. After a long offseason of hard work, the Jeffs were set for their annual spring break trip to sunny California, where they would play 17 matches over the course of six days. With multiple contests on a given day, it was an excellent opportunity for all 21 members of the team to experience some playing time. “It was a great week. The guys had a blast. The time they share with one another during the week is one of the highlights each season,” head coach Chris Garner said. Amherst had only two losses out west, falling 5-4 to Concordia and 6-3 to Claremont-Mudd Scripps. In the biggest match of the trip, against CMS, only the top doubles team of Fritz and Justin Reindel ’14 was able to defeat their Stag opponents, while
Chris Dale ’14 and Reindel were the lone players to record wins in singles. Returning home on a six-match win streak, the Jeffs continued to roll, going undefeated in the NESCAC and accumulating eight 9-0 sweeps before their final two matches of the regular season against conference powerhouses Williams and Middlebury. Despite going down 1-2 after the doubles matches, Amherst edged the Ephs 5-4 by winning four out of the six singles matches. Dale’s threeset victory in the second singles spot clinched the win and earned him NESCAC Player of the Week Honors. Against Middlebury in the team’s regular season finale, the Jeffs once again went down 1-2 after the doubles — a theme that would return later on in the postseason. The doubles advantage proved to be the difference maker this time around, as the teams split the singles’ competition, giving Middlebury both the match and the top-seed in the conference. As the second seed, Amherst earned a first round bye in the NESCAC tournament and trumped both Williams and Middlebury 5-1 in the semis and finals, respectively, demonstrating that the team was indeed the best in conference this season. Their NESCAC title was the sixth in program history and third in the past four years. With an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, the Jeffs entered the 64-team field as the third team in the country. After another first round bye, Amherst hosted the second and third rounds of play, defeating Stevens and Bowdoin handily. Once the Jeffs all finished their final exams and papers (because, after all, they are student-athletes), the team traveled to CMS in California for the remainder of the tournament.
In the quarterfinals, Amherst squared off against sixth-ranked Emory, whom they defeated 5-1 to advance the national semifinals for the second consecutive season. Against eighth-ranked Trinity (TX), the Jeffs had to overcome a 3-0 doubles deficit if they wanted to a shot at the national title the next day. Trinity got on the board early with an 8-5 win over Fritz and Reindel in the top doubles spot. Both the second and third doubles teams battled to 8-8 ties in their pro-sets, pushing them to tiebreaks. However, neither Andrew Yaraghi ’16 and Revzin nor Michael Solimano ’16 and Dale could edge their Trinity opponents. “We were down 3-0, but our team, we always fight really hard, and I just thought if I fight and do my part, then maybe our team will have a chance,” Fritz said. The senior co-captain did just that, and his match was the first to finish, as he topped Paxton Deuel 7-5, 6-4 in what would be the only straight-set victory on the day. After losing the first set, Reindel bounced back to win his match 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 in the sixth singles spot, cutting the lead to 3-2. Solimano evened the score at three apiece with a win in the third singles spot. After splitting the first two sets, 2-6, 6-4, the sophomore was down 5-2 in the third set before he went on to win seven straight games and take the set 7-5. Yaraghi had another come-frombehind win, topping Jordan Mayer in the fifth spot, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 to give Amherst a fragile 4-3 lead. In the second singles spot, Dale’s match was as close as it gets. With the score at 7-6, 5-7, and tied a five games each in the third set, play was stopped as Anton Zykov ’17 had clinched the
fifth and final win for the Jeffs in the fourth spot with a 7-6, 6-3 victory. “There are a lot of guys who come through the program and care about being on the team,” Garner said. “I think they showed a lot of pride by believing in themselves, getting out there, competing and seeing what would happen. Obviously a lot happened.” The improbable comeback propelled Amherst to the championship match — pitting them against the topranked CMS team, who ousted the Jeffs from contention last year in the NCAA semifinals and topped them earlier this season. Eager to avenge these losses and hungry for a second national title, the team came out firing on all cylinders but found themselves down 1-2 after the doubles’ portion. Dale and Solimano earned the lone win, defeating their Stag opponents 8-6. “Without Chris and Michael’s effort at three doubles, we wouldn’t have had a chance. That was a huge win,” Garner said. Solimano’s success continued into singles, as he defeated Nik Marino 6-2, 7-6, but Dale lost a closely contested match 7-6, 6-2, so CMS still held the slight advantage. Yaraghi and Reindel topped their opponents in straight sets, giving Amherst its first lead of the day. In need of just one more win, the team could feel the championship at its fingertips. In a clash between the top two singles players in the country, Fritz finished off Warren Wood 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, prompting his teammates to flood the courts and celebrate their national championship win. The class of 2014’s tennis careers have come full circle, winning national titles both their first and final years at Amherst.
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
MEN’S SOCCER THREE-PEAT! Max Fikke ’14 scored the game winning goal off of an assist from Gabriel Wirz ’15 to lift the Jeffs over Williams for Amherst’s third consecutive NESCAC title.
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson
MEN’S BASKETBALL THREE-PEAT! At halftime, Williams was up 45-44, but Aaron Toomey ’14 and Tom Killian ’14 led the Jeffs to a 16-4 run to pull away and give Amherst its third consecutive NESCAC title.
Photo courtesy of NESCAC
WOMEN’S TENNIS Led by seniors Jordan Brewer and Gabby Devlin, the second-ranked Jeffs captured their record ninth overall NESCAC title with a decisive 5-1 win over archrival Williams.
MVPs: The Best of the Jeffs Two-sport athlete Alex Philie was named to the All-NESCAC First Team in both field hockey and lacrosse this past year. Captain of both teams, the senior earned her third consecutive All-America honor in lacrosse this season. Naomi Bates’ senior season was full of success: winning the national title in the long jump for both indoor and outdoor track and breaking program records in the 60 and 200 meter dash. NESCAC Player of the Year Joey Fritz, the top singles and doubles player for the Jeffs this past year, won the deciding match in the NCAA finals to lead the team to its second ever national title. He will also be competing as the second seed in NCAA Individual Championships.
JOEY FRITZ Photo courtesy of Niahlah Hope ’15
WOMEN’S LACROSSE Fifth-ranked Amherst upset fourthranked TCNJ 8-5 in the NCAA quarterfinals to keep their national title hopes alive. Returning to the NCAA semifinals for the sixth time in program history, the Jeffs are set to take on second-ranked Salisbury and extend their historic season on Saturday, May 24 at 4 p.m.
Published on May 23, 2014