Category Archives: Features

WWGME Advisors Scotlight – Drs. Krause, Tian, & Long

For International Women’s Day, Wooster Women and Gender Minorities in Economics (WWGME) leaders Mahi Lal ’22, Mekdes Shiferaw ’23 and Maggie Dougherty ’21 interview their advisors, Dr. Brooke Krause, Dr. Melanie Long and Dr. Huiting Tian, about their research interests within the field of economics and how they see the future of the department.

  • Why economics? 

Dr. Tian: During my undergraduate years, my advisors helped me develop a passion for economics, finance and quantitative analysis that has motivated me throughout my graduate career. 

Dr. Long: When I started college, I was broadly interested in understanding income inequality and policies that could help address it. I started as a political science major with an emphasis in economics. As part of that emphasis, I took a course called Economics as a Social Science during my first semester in college. The course featured fascinating topics, including the history of market economies and heterodox paradigms in economic thought. I decided to switch to an economics major while taking that class. I also took history and philosophy of science courses as part of my general education requirements, and I enjoyed using the ideas from those courses to think critically about the different and evolving ways in which economics has been done.

Dr. Krause: Because I said yes to an opportunity! Someone in my Spanish class my first year of college asked if anyone wanted to go to Guatemala over spring break. I didn’t know that student at the time, but I said yes! This was where I learned about marginalized indigenous communities and some of the challenges related to living in extreme poverty. I knew I wanted to learn more and found economics as a path to studying and alleviating poverty.

  • What are your research interests? 

Dr. Tian: My research interests are in applied econometrics and microeconomics with a focus on production economics. The central curiosity triggering my research is to understand the productive performance of countries, states and firms. By applying appropriate and sophisticated econometric techniques, my studies discuss how productivity and efficiency can be explained using various economic factors.

Dr. Long: My research investigates gender and racial inequality in the U.S. financial system. I explore how gaps in access to affordable ways of saving, borrowing and investing impact rates of debt accumulation and wealth inequality, with a focus on developments surrounding the 2008 Financial Crisis.

Dr. Krause: My field is development economics, within which my research interests are to understand how marginalized populations in the Global South make decisions and are affected by policies in order to identify ways to improve individual well-being. Health, education and gendered power dynamics within the household are themes that encompass my work. 

  • Why Wooster and what do you believe is the future of the economics department? 

Dr. Tian: Wooster allows me to really get to know students, connect with them and meet their diverse needs. Even outside the classroom, there are plenty of events and programs to unite faculty and students as one. Being an economics major provides students the crucial skill sets that are necessary to understanding the world that surrounds them. Although challenges exist, such as more mathematical nature in economics and rapid advances in digital technologies, I believe economics will always bring us deeper insights about real-world phenomena. 

Dr. Long: There are so many reasons why I love being at Wooster. One major reason is our amazing students! It is wonderful to see the dedication and passion that students bring to our classes and to everything that they do on campus and beyond. This is a very exciting time for the economics department, especially with the official chartering of WWGME! I am thrilled to see all of the events that WWGME has planned.

Dr. Krause: The future of the economics department is exciting! I joined the department five years ago and there was one year where I was the only woman in the department. Next academic year, we will have over 50% female representation among the economics faculty. We have been collectively and actively working on creating a department culture that asks how we can support each other and our students to grow in our inclusion efforts.

Interdepartmental Talk by Trans Queer Pueblo

Aspen Rush

Managing Editor

 

On March 4, the Earlham College Border Studies Program, cosponsored by the Departments of Global and International Studies and Latin American Studies, Latinas Unidas, O.L.A.S., TQPOC and Bodies of Diversity virtually engaged students, faculty and staff in an informational session about the TransQueer (TQ) Pueblo. Located in Tucson, Arizona, TQPueblo is a migrant and LBGT+ community. The organization focuses on community solutions in the fight for social justice. 

Earlham College, in collaboration with TQPueblo, brought speakers Jeff Boyce, Karla Bautista and Javier Ferrer Llanos to speak about queer migrant issues. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Border Studies Program is engaging in virtual speaker series. While this creates the potential  of difficulties, the Border Studies Program was able to engage with their communities without geographical limits. While most students attended the talk from their dorm rooms or homes, the speakers themselves were scattered throughout Arizona. 

Jeff Boyce, a native English speaker and academic director of Earlham College’s Border Studies program, began with a language acknowledgement. Boyce addressed that all languages should be given equal representation regardless of popularity. To emphasize this, he delivered this message in both English and Spanish. Boyce then introduced the translator and explained that Bautista and Ferrer Llanos would be using a translator for the duration of the presentation. 

Bautista opened her presentation by asking everyone to take a deep breath. She joked, “It doesn’t matter if you get a booger!” Then she began her own story. Bautista is a trans woman originally from Guatemala. In 2005, she departed from her home country, fleeing homophobic and transphobic violence. She arrived in the U.S. in 2005, but was detained before being deported six times. Finally, she was able to stay and reside in the U.S. At the end of 2017, Bautista was finally able to take hormones and was able to get involved with TQPueblo. She was invited to participate in the organization’s yearly summit to map out goals and action plans for the upcoming year. Bautista explained that her experiences “gave [her] anger and rage, which gave [her] strength to participate.” 

Bautista explained the ways in which TQPueblo engages with the queer migrant community. The Liberation project takes a multifaceted approach. The organization undertakes all aspects of the migrant experience ranging from legal difficulties to emotional struggles to post-detention support. 

Ferrer Llanos, originally from Venezuela, fled home to escape persecution. He explained that in Venezuala, expressing one’s gay identity results in immediate rejection and discrimination. Although he did not want to leave his home, he was forced to migrate for his own safety. Ferrer Llanos first went to Mexico, where he experienced sexual harassment, extortion and threats of deportation. When he finally arrived at the U.S. border, he was put on a two month long waitlist to request asylum. Ferrer Llanos spent six months in detention under horrible conditions. “If you get sick,” he recalled, “you have to fill out a request. It can take up to three days to get a response. Guards would only tell you to drink water.” Because of these inhumane conditions, Ferrer Llanos was extremely depressed and reached out to TQPueblo for moral support. The organization helped Ferrer Llanos navigate the legal system and he was ultimately able to qualify for parole. However, Ferrer Llanos explained, he still does not feel liberated. He has to wear a tracking device on his ankle; he is always presumed to be a criminal and he still does not have the documents to be able to support himself. 

Both speakers expressed their appreciation for their community, particularly during the pandemic. To get involved, visit tqpueblo.org.

This is part of a three-part speaker series hosted by the Earlham College Border Studies Program. On March 11, Nellie Jo David will speak on the O’odham Anti Border Collective and on March 18, Genevieve Shroeder will speak on the No More Deaths Abuse Documentation Team. You can find the links to these virtual events in your email.

Scotlight: Lesley Chinery

Chloe Burdette

Editor in Chief

 

Lesley, so great to see you! I am so excited to interview you today!

So excited to be here! Thanks for choosing me!

Firstly, I wanted to talk about your I.S., it is such an interesting topic. What is your I.S. about? Give us a glimpse.

I created a financial literacy workshop for college-aged women, ages 18 to 22, to be able to help them understand the relationship between spending, saving and investing. I had a workshop in February on Microsoft Teams. Twenty-two participants came to the workshop and I had a great response from everyone who participated. Up until the workshop, my advisor and I had been planning and creating the workshop for a whole semester in order for it to be crucial and beneficial for my I.S. I also had to do interviews with people who have done workshops before to plan it accordingly!

What was the workshop about? What did the workshop focus on?

There is the idea that women are more intimidated by money and are not good with “money,” just simply because they identify as a woman. Because I disagree with this stereotype, I’m trying to debunk that completely — my point is it’s really not innate for women to be conservative with money and to be afraid of money, we are just conditioned to think that about ourselves! To add, most people tend to shy away from enhancing education for young women about money and financial literacy, and I am trying to bridge the gender gap within this subject.

I remember your Junior I.S. also focused on the idea of women empowerment and recognition in some way. Can you speak a little more on that?

Yes! My Junior I.S. was about exploring the performance of self-love on Instagram for women and by women. As you can tell, women are very dear to my heart and that’s a part of my identity I really value, so I was exploring the performance of self-love on Instagram and my Junior I.S. was inspired by a book and Instagram account called Recipes for Self-Love that was exemplary for women of all shapes, colors and sizes to love themselves regardless of how they looked or if they fit society’s idea of a “perfect” woman. Additionally, the self-love account would show a wide variety of women instead of the women all being white. The account and book were just very well-rounded and I really enjoyed spending time analyzing them and how important they are for women to see. 

That is great! Your I.S. topics are really cool and seem to be connected — I look forward to reading your Senior I.S. when it is finished! After I.S. and graduation, do you have any plans?

I do, I actually just received news that I got accepted to Georgetown University for grad school. I will be studying and getting my master’s in public relations and corporate communication because that’s my field of interest! 

That is so exciting, congratulations! Have you figured out the logistics for grad school yet? Roommates, when you will be moving to D.C., etc.?

Yes. Surprisingly enough, I am actually going to room with my friend Mahlet Frazer Zemedkun Cwho graduated from The College of Wooster last year. We had spoken about rooming together and both wanting to move to the D.C. area and everything just fell into place! 

Wow, talk about networking and valuable friendships!

Yes! The College really emphasizes the importance of networking and personally, my network has been the most valuable asset so far in my life. Knowing people who work in topics I am interested in and even knowing people who know other significant people — you never know who you will meet that will help you in your life and in your education. I am grateful for all of the people I have met on this campus. 

Black History Month educates and engages campus

Aspen Rush

Managing Editor

 

Every February, The College of Wooster community collaborates to create a month-long observance of Black history. To plan the celebrations, a committee made up of students, faculty and staff work closely to build programming that both educates and engages students in community building. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the committee resolved to hold most of the events virtually this year. 

This Black History Month, the College took a multifaceted approach, incorporating both educational programming and community building. Ivonne M. García, the College’s chief  diversity, equity and inclusion officer, discussed the programming, indicating that the committee consulted Black students to guide the celebrations. Because of the recent increased visibility of the Black Lives Matter movement, this year’s events hold a particular significance. Black History Month at Wooster acknowledged this shift by both creating a space for community building and continued education. 

To kick off the events of Black History Month, CDI and the CDEIO collaborated to produce the art wall, located in Lowry Center, entitled “Black Herstory.” The wall draws attention to contributions by Black women throughout American history. Each day of the month, a different woman was featured with a short summary of her accomplishments.

TQBIPOC support group took place twice this month, acknowledging trans and queer intersectional identities on the campus. 

In educational programming, guest speaker Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries gave a talk entitled, “A Field of Dreams Deferred: Race, Nostalgia, and Housing in Brooklyn, New York.” Jeffries highlighted the ongoing struggle of gentrification in Black communities, as it continues to displace people of color. Jeffries engaged directly with his audience, encouraging everyone to turn their cameras on and to ask him questions about his experiences and on the topic. 

On Feb. 8, the College hosted an interdisciplinary panel entitled, “Insurrection at the Capitol: Understanding its Dynamics, Meaning, and Consequences.” After the insurrection on Jan. 6, the College hosted this panel to acknowledge and process the ways in which we are living through history. The events of Jan. 6 were analyzed through a political, historical and religious lens. 

On Feb. 17, Maresa Taté ’21 and Angela Danso Gyane ’21 hosted a justice dialogue. They named the talk, “The African Booty Scratcher: How You Got Your Black Card Revoked.” Taté and Danso Gyane wanted to make a statement with the title. Taté recalls, “We both had been called that name growing up in the States as ‘African’ kids, and it was not something uncommon for African kids. It is not solely used ‘against’ Africans, but was something negatively used in some Black spaces in my experience.” Danso Gyane remembered her own experience, stating, “It was a phrase that I was often referred to as during my 13-year stay in the U.S.; That and ‘fresh off the boat’ became a major part of my identity because I refused to conform to others’ ideas of normalcy or assimilation. I proudly spoke my native language and boasted about my culture which prompted attacks from a variety of people.” Taté and Danso Gyane brought different experiences and expertise to the table. “Angela attends to the history and the historical implications white supremacy and colonialism have on us currently,” Taté said. “I tie in what this looks like on a behavioral level. It’s really interesting how we can complement each other in that way.” In their dialogue, Taté and Gyane tackled questions of intersectionality, immigration, home and a variety of other topics.

The Black History Month committee engaged the community in a variety of methods and formats. In their further programming, the Black Student Association and Wooster Activities Crew co-hosted Black History Month Trivia night; “Gotta Get Down to It” was screened with an accompanying discussion and the Department of Theatre and Dance hosted the world debut of “Well Run Dry” (see A&E pg whatever). Further, Visiting Assistant Professor Rob Razzante and Elizabeth Testamark ’22 hosted a Civil Dialogue® interrogating the notion, “Do respectability politics work?”; BSA and the Multicultural Student Affairs hosted the annual Peace & Paint; García hosted a book discussion of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix by Jason Reynolds. García explained that “all events featured during this year’s Black History Month referenced the events over the past year, in one way or another.”

Through all of these events, the College navigated the complexity of acknowledging history and processed and contextualized the events of the past year while simultaneously interweaving community building. As such, this year’s Black History Month differed from every other previous year. Now more than ever, we must recognize Black life in all of its complexities and intersectionality. Black History is right now. Through continuing efforts such as this Black History Month’s events, we can foster growth in the student body towards a more equitable and inclusive campus. In the words of the author Reynolds, “There will come a time when we will love humanity, when we will gain the courage to fight for an equitable society … knowing, intelligently, that when we fight for humanity, we are fighting for ourselves. There will come a time. Maybe, just maybe, that time is now.”

Scotlight: Michael Buttrey

Bijeta Lamichhane

News Editor

 

Could you introduce yourself and explain what you do at The College of Wooster?

My name is Michael Buttrey (he/him). I am the head of Access Services here at The College of Wooster libraries. It is my job to make sure that people have access to materials.

What has your career looked like, and what led you to the College?

I was a non-traditional student and received my bachelor’s at Ohio State in 2011. While I was there, I worked as a student assistant in their library at the Mansfield branch. After I received my degree, I got a part-time job at the Wake County Public Library, and I was a delivery driver for them. So I went out to their branches every morning and delivered their books and materials, and brought back materials to the main library. And then I received an interview here. In October 2012, I started as the evening supervisor. And once my boss left in 2016, I applied for her position and I’ve been the head of Access Services since.

What has been the highlight of your time at Wooster?

My highlight has been watching students grow through the time that they’re here, both personally and professionally. It’s really nice to see student employees grow, especially first years, from the first time they come to the time that they leave as seniors, to see how much they’ve matured and how much they’ve learned.

What are the values that you try to uphold in your work environment?

I try to uphold basic values of teamwork, respect, inclusion and open communication. Also, open resources for anyone and everyone. I try to instill personal values of hard work and dedication, but also having fun and being able to grow and laugh at yourself.

Can you share a little bit about your dogs?

We have two rescue dogs and another dog that we got as a puppy. There’s Stanley. He is about 130 pounds and he is a Romanian mountain sheep dog. He’s the one that we got as a puppy. And then there’s Charlie, who is a mutt. They found him five years ago after a bad snowstorm in Mansfield. He was by himself and all alone and he was probably about six or eight months old when we rescued him. There was another puppy in Stark County, and we’ve had him for about two years now. His name is Henry. He just turned two in November. He’s still a puppy.

Could you provide some advice for college students?

Be yourself, find yourself and be that person. Academics-wise, be patient and take advantage of every opportunity that comes to you because you never know when or if it’ll ever happen again. Also, use our facilities!

Pathways program provides structure for students

Maggie Dougherty

Editor in Chief

 

This academic year, for the first time ever, a new career exploration program is available for first-year and sophomore Wooster students: the Pathways Program. What is a Pathway? That really comes down to what any individual student wants to make of it. According to Coral Ciupak ’19, the Pathways coordinator, Pathways is an interdisciplinary program designed to allow students to pursue their academic interests in coordination with valuable experiential learning opportunities and intentional reflection about their future careers. 

How does that work in practice? Pathway programs are designed to span multiple semesters and to be structured around three fundamental pillars: 1) coursework, 2) experiential learning and 3) reflection. A typical Pathway might consist of three to four courses, one or two experiential learning experiences — such as internships, off-campus study, campus jobs or service projects — and progressive reflection exercises. 

Currently, there are seven Pathways options available to students to choose from: Activism & Social Change, Data Exploration & Communication, Digital & Visual Storytelling, Entrepreneurship, Global Impacts, Museum & Archival Studies and Public Health. These issue areas can be closely intertwined with a student’s major or minor, but they also allow students to explore an interest outside of their declared major.

Students who choose to pursue a Pathway are supported by a team of faculty, staff and peer advisors. This year, there are three Pathways Peer Advisors — Elizabeth Testamark ’22, Megan Zins ’22 and Samuel Boudreau ’23 — available to help students navigate the program. They are available regularly for help between 1:30-4 p.m. on Wired-in-Wednesdays on Microsoft Teams, and can help students choose a Pathway, reflect on past experiences and interests, plan their schedules to work with the Pathway of their choice and work on their resumes.  

In reflecting on the academic benefits of the Pathways program, Zins explained, “Students are not required to choose a Pathway directly related to their major. Pathways are more like dynamic supplements to students’ education and career exploration, giving them the opportunity to complement their major or explore something they’re simply interested in outside of their major. That being said, each Pathway takes on an interdisciplinary approach to the career path, giving students an easy way to combine multiple interests through choosing the courses and experiential learning opportunities they complete for the Pathway.” 

“I think of Pathways as especially great for students who are passionate about their major and, at the same time, are imagining careers for themselves that may not seem related. What I expect they’ll discover, though, is that there are plenty of meaningful connections to make across academic disciplines, personal interests and career fields.” 

Boudreau echoed this benefit, saying, “[In my first year at Wooster] I never really knew when to search for internships and how to apply my personal and academic interests to professional opportunities. I’ve always been nervous about what I’m going to do after graduation, especially with a liberal arts degree, so I was never quite sure where to start when searching for a career field that matched my interests. Pathways initially interested me because it helps students explore a broad career field early in their Wooster career.”

Testamark further highlighted the opportunities for personal development that students will achieve through the experiential learning components of a Pathway, explaining, “Students are going to be able to grow professionally as they enter the experiential learning aspect of the Pathway. Students will also have the opportunity to have an even more diverse educational background, and will be one step closer to understanding who they are as an individual and what career they may want to pursue in the future.”  

The academic and experiential elements of the Pathways Program are supported by intentional reflection exercises to help students draw connections between their interests and think about how these factors might come together in a future career path. Throughout the duration of their Pathway progression, students will submit five reflections through Moodle, which will be reviewed by the Pathways coordinator, A.P.E.X. staff or members of the Pathways Team. Although these assignments will not be formally graded, their completion is essential to the program. According to Kastor, whose focus has been creating the reflection framework used in the Pathways, “There are five touchpoints in the reflection framework to be completed by every student who participates. Each touchpoint has a specific purpose with the ultimate goal of helping students connect what they learn in the classroom with experiences beyond the classroom like internships, field placements, and student employment.” 

“My favorite element of the program is the built-in reflection points where students are asked to think critically about their interests and experiences,” said Zins. “I think all too often we get caught up in our everyday life and start passively living — and we can lose our sense of direction that way. The Pathways Program offers students a chance to slow down and regain that sense of direction, which I really appreciate and am honored to be a part of.”

Testamark similarly highlighted the benefits of the intentional reflection and support built into the program. “I love the idea of Pathways in general,” she said. “I just love the idea of focusing on a specific Pathway and digging a little deeper into it. Another main aspect that I love is the team of faculty that are over[seeing] each Pathway and are ensuring that the students who sign up in their specific Pathway are supported.”

The Pathways Program has been in development for a long time, with work on curriculum starting as early as five years ago. Since then, it has evolved through the College’s strategic planning initiatives, specifically to focus on career exploration opportunities. Describing the goals of the program, Professor of History Greg Shaya said, “We wanted to create interdisciplinary programs that would allow faculty and staff to come together in new ways. At the same time, we saw the degree to which students and families were asking how to better connect college and life after graduation. The result of all of that thinking? We made it a strategic priority to create new interdisciplinary programs that would help prepare students for success after Wooster.” 

In addition to the faculty and staff who worked to develop the program over the past summer, the  planning committee included three student representatives: King, as well as Saeed Husain ’21 and Ella Lang ’21. King explained that their role was to “provide insights that a faculty or staff member can’t. Ultimately, Pathways caters to students. So, it’s imperative to understand what students want out of a program like this.” And, it seems that they were successful in this — as Zins noted, “After being introduced to the program, my initial reaction was, ‘I wish they had something like this when I was a first-year!’” This sentiment has been widely expressed by other students as well, with Aspen Rush ’22 stating, “I think that really would have helped me if it was around in my first two years.”

Husain emphasized that those involved in designing the program were determined to do it the right way, not to rush the process. “The committee and the professors, from even before the students had come on, were taking real care in launching Pathways the right way.” He explained that, due to the pandemic, there was some pressure on schools nationally to release new programs during the summer in order to offset low enrollment numbers, and that the committee was encouraged to launch the Pathways program as early and quickly as possible. However, ultimately he says, the administration trusted the Committee’s decision to delay and take a little longer in order to make sure everything was truly thought out before students could register. 

Finally, although the program is technically new, both Husain and King noted that it draws on long-established patterns of student interactions with the Wooster curriculum. Husain began, saying, “I would like to let students and professors know that this is something which Wooster has been doing for a very long time. This slightly formalizes it more … or, not even just formalizes it — just gives a literal path for students to look at and understand how it comes together so that then they can talk about that to potentially future employers or graduate schools.”

King echoed these sentiments, explaining, “So many Wooster students have passionately crafted their own paths; Pathways codifies what these students have already done and urges others to do the same. Pathways’ emphasis on reflection, moreover, encourages students to actively take charge of their learning, critically thinking about each step of their journey and sharing their progress with others in a creative way.”

On Feb. 1, the program officially launched, allowing students to get started by completing the “Pathways Launch” form, which is housed under the Student Academic Forms tab of the Registrar’s page on the Wooster website. 

For those interested, Kastor stressed, “It is very important for students to talk with a faculty or staff member or a peer advisor before they declare their participation in a Pathway.  These initial touchpoints will help a student understand the expectations of the program and will help them consider the most important factors when making a choice.”

The deadline to register to join Pathways this year is next Friday, Feb. 26. Until then, Pathways staff and peer advisors will continue meeting with interested students to inform them about the program and encourage them to begin. Any students who think that they might want to explore a Pathway program are encouraged by all involved to attend the Wired-in-Wednesday sessions, weekly from 1:30-4 p.m. on Teams with Testamark, Zins and Boudreau and to reach out to Pathways Program Coordinator Coral Ciupak at pathways@wooster.edu with any questions.