Milestones 2009

November 2009

Barry Ranks Among Top Ten

It's been a banner year for professor of biologiocal sciences Susan Barry. Her book, Fixing My Gaze (Basic Books, 2009), has earned rave reviews from publications across the country, including the New England Journal of Medicine, and has now been listed among the top ten science books of 2009 by the editors of Amazon.com. Barry's book is a memoir of her journey to develop three-dimensional vision.

Demas Publishes Book of Poetry

Professor of English Corinne Demas, an award-winning author of novels, short stories, and children's books, has published a new book of poetry, The Donkeys Postpone Gratification (Finishing Line Press, 2009). Demas has also written a new novel that is due to be published by Hyperion in summer 2010. She is currently curating an exhibit titled The Making of a Picture Book now through December 18 at the W.E.B. DuBois Library at the Univerity of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Leocadia I. Zak '79 Wins Obama Nomination

President Barack Obama has nominated Leocadia I. Zak '79 to be the next director of the United States Trade and Development Agency. Zak has been acting director of the agency since Obama took office last January 20. She was named deputy director of USTDA in January 2006 and served as general counsel from 2000 to 2005.

Prior to joining USTDA, Zak was a partner in the Washington, D.C., and Boston offices of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo, P.C., practicing in corporate, municipal, and international project finance. She has also taught a course titled International Project Finance as an adjunct professor of law at the Boston University School of Law and at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Modeling Success

Mount Holyoke's Model United Nations Club is on a roll and has seen the success of many of its members so far this semester at both the National Collegiate Security Conference XXXVII at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and the Security Council Simulation XXXII at Yale University in New Haven.

Students representing Mount Holyoke who received awards at Georgetown were Mayesha Alam '10, for outstanding delegate; Laura Bernstein '11, for outstanding delegate; Jarin Chu '11, for outstanding delegate; and Demet Duran '11, with an honorable mention. At Yale, awards were won by Mayesha Alam '10, with an honorable mention; Lydia Boyer '10, for outstanding delegate; Rebeca Echevarria '10, with an honorable mention; and Liana Simonds '12, for outstanding delegate.

Mount Holyoke Model United Nations is looking forward to its next conference at the University of Pennsylvania November 12-15.

October 2009

A Plea to the UN for Western Sahara

Representing the Saharawi Youth Union, Senia Bachir-Abderahman '10 addressed the United Nation's Special Political and Decolonization Committee on October 7 regarding conditions in her native Western Sahara under Moroccan occupation.

In her third address to the UN on this subject, Bachir-Abderahman stressed the hardships residents of her nation are currently suffering, saying, in part:

"As I speak now, many Saharawi prisoners are being harassed and tortured in Moroccan prisons, many students are discriminated against in universities, and many are simply disappearing. I ask you why, as these deliberate violations continue to take place, does the international community turn a blind-eye to the Western Sahara issue? Why does the Moroccan government's ignorance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights go unnoticed? Why is our primary right to be "born, free and equal in dignity rights" as stated in Article 1, breached?

"On behalf of the Saharawi youth, I urge the UN and the rest of the world to consider these questions, and take immediate action to prevent the ongoing human rights violations in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. As the president of the United States, Barack Obama said, "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." I invite all of you to be that change."

Morocco has controlled most of Western Sahara since 1991.

Friedman Appointed to Hospital Board

Laurel Friedman '49 has been appointed as an overseer for life to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Board of Overseers. Currently president of the Mount Holyoke Club of Boston, Friedman has been active in community affairs for many years and is a board member of the Brimmer and May School in Chestnut Hill. She is also a volunteer for Call for Action, an international, nonprofit network addressing consumer problems.

A: Nicole Labruto '05; Q: Who's on Jeopardy?

Nicole Labruto '05 of Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey, appeared as a contestant on the October 6 episode of Jeopardy. During the broadcast host Alek Trebek shared a 20-year-old letter he sent to Labruto after the then-6-year-old had written to him asking to be a contestant on the show. Labruto finished in second place, wining $6,200.

Mad Men Cast Includes Alum

One of the most popular programs on television has an unexpected tie to Mount Holyoke College. In AMC's award-winning series Mad Men, the character of Helen Bishop revealed the first season that she is a graduate of MHC and spent time studying abroad in France.

Although Helen (played by actress Darby Stanchfield) has never named her class year, the divorced mother of two children volunteered for John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign, and the show is set in the 1960s. Helen's alma mater is not her only distinction among the Mad Men characters: Her status as a divorcee, as well as her habit of taking long walks, has made her the subject of gossip for women in her neighborhood.

A League of Her Own

Martha Ackmann, senior lecturer in gender studies, and tennis legend Billie Jean King were featured speakers at a recent meeting of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), the league made famous in the 1992 film, A League of Their Own. The AAGPBL gathering in Milwaukee on September 26 honored Ackmann for her commitment to uncovering forgotten women’s history.

Ackmann’s new book, Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League, will be published in 2010. The book tells the story of Toni Stone, a female second baseman for the Indianapolis Clowns and the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro League of the 1950s. Stone played against baseball greats such as Satchel Paige, Ernie Banks, and Willie Mays, and replaced Hank Aaron after the future Hall of Famer moved to the major leagues.

In addition to honoring Ackmann and King, the AAGPBL also saluted women’s sports pioneers including Ria Cortesio, one of the few female umpires working in professional baseball, and Dawn Riley, the first women to manage an America’s Cup sailing syndicate and the past president of the Women’s Sports Foundation.

The AAGPBL was formed in 1943 during World War II when many male ballplayers in the major leagues were drafted into military service. The women’s league was a way of keeping baseball in the public eye. The AAGPBL included over a dozen Midwestern teams, such as the Rockford Peaches and Racine Belles. The league ceased operation in 1954.

Roosevelt Institution Takes Root at MHC

Casey Maliszewski FP’10 has founded a chapter of the Roosevelt Institution at Mount Holyoke. The institution, established in 2004 by students from Stanford and Yale universities, is a national, intercollegiate organization that promotes students' policy ideas. Its aim is to advocate progressive ideas and policies akin to those of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, which helped revive the U.S. after the Great Depression.

Building “Green” Community

MHC’s Green Living Council, a newly formed campus organization, has created a position for green living reps to replace eco-liaisons in each residence hall. The green living reps will be responsible for attending workshops on promoting environmental awareness and environmentally friendly practices, and for planning and implementing environmental stewardship and outreach projects in the residence halls. Students elected the first group of green living reps in September.

September 2009

Mallika Dutt '83 Wins Courage Award

Indian American civil rights activist Mallika Dutt '83 will be honored October 1 by the Asian American Justice Centre (AAJC), a leading U.S. civil rights organization, with the American Courage Award. Dutt is the executive director of Breakthrough, an international human rights organization. She has a long history of activism and commitment to social change and has addressed global issues ranging from women's rights to racial justice and immigrant rights.

May 2009

Nigel Alderman Coedits New Book

Nigel Alderman, assistant professor of English, has coedited with C. D. Blanton a book titled A Concise Companion to Postwar British and Irish Poetry (Wiley-Blackwell, May 2009). “The mere fact,” he writes, “that we have no better term than “postwar” for a historical interlude over a half a century long, then, should already suggest the inevitability of a backward glance towards those revolutions, disasters, and new beginnings that brought the postwar order (and its various disorders) into being.”

Brooke Nichols ’09 Publishes AIDS Research

Brooke Nichols ’09’s abstract based on her pioneering epidemiological work on the transmission of HIV/AIDS in Namibia will be published by the Journal of the International AIDS Society. The paper, titled “Casual Drinking Establishments and HIV Prevalence Among Men and Women in Luderitz, Namibia,” is based on data she collected last summer while in Namibia. She will also be presenting her research results at the International AIDS Society’s biannual conference this July in Cape Town, South Africa. Nichols recently received an Alumnae Association Fellowship to conduct additional research in Namibia.

April 2009

Ackmann at Writer's Conference

This May, Martha Ackmann, senior lecturer in gender studies, will teach at the New England Young Writers' Conference at Middlebury College (NEYWC).

The NEYWC is in its 25th year and attracts promising young high school writers for four days of workshops on fiction, playwrighting, poetry, and nonfiction writing. A journalist and author, Ackmann is one of 21 writers invited to participate and will lead workshops on narrative nonfiction.

The NEYWC is modeled on the famous Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the oldest writers conference in the United States, and will take place on Middlebury's Bread Loaf campus near Ripton, Vermont. Robert Frost provided the inspiration for the founding the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and his legacy continues to influence young writers attending the NEYWC.

Since its inception in 1984, the NEYWC has welcomed more than 5,000 young writers and 500 high schoool teachers to the Bread Loaf campus.

Ackmann will be joined by other writers including novelist Sue Halpern, children's book author Rita Murphy, poet Robert Siegel, and playwright Dana Yeaton. Ackmann’s first book, The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight (Random House) has received critical acclaim. She is currently working on a book on Toni Stone, the first woman to play professional baseball.

Save Darfur Rally

Jon Western, Five College Associate Professor of International Relations, spoke at a Save Darfur rally sponsored by Amnesty International USA and the Save Darfur Coalition on Sunday, April 19, in Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C.  The event brought survivors from past genocides, such as the Holocaust and Rwanda, and mass atrocities, such as Darfur and Bosnia, together with faith leaders, leading antigenocide advocates, and local activists to reflect on these atrocities and call on President Obama to act now on Darfur.

Speakers included Mia Farrow, actress and Darfur advocate; John Prendergast, cofounder of the Enough Project; Rev. Gloria White-Hammond, M.D., chairperson of the Save Darfur Coalition and cofounder of My Sister's Keeper; Fatima Haroun, vice president of the Darfur Alert Coalition and Darfuri leader; and Mohammed Yahya, president of the Damanga Coalition and Darfuri leader.

March 2009

Leslie Anne Miller '73 Honored by Girl Scouts

Leslie Anne Miller '73, chair of the Mount Holyoke  College Board of Trustees, has received the Juliet Gordon Low Leadership Award from the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania during their 23rd annual Take the Lead celebration. Miller, an attorney, was recognized for her leadership in service to the community and advocacy of programs that advance women.

"Leslie Miller is someone our girls can emulate and learn from," said Ann Meredith, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania. "She demonstrates the highest level of accomplishment in her field."

Miller is currently a solo practitioner engaged in alternative dispute resolution. She was previously general counsel for the Pennsylvania Office of General Counsel, the commonwealth's largest legal entity. Numerous nonprofit and cultural organizations have benefited from her professional creativity and acumen as a board member. She also serves as an advisor to Mayor Michael A. Nutter.

Indira Peterson Gives Inaugural Lecture at McGill

Indira Viswanathan Peterson, David B. Truman Professor of Asian Studies at MHC, was tapped to present the inaugural lecture of the new South Asian Religions Distinguished Lectureship in the Faculty of Religious Studies at Montreal's McGill University on March 6.

The lecture series has been established to complement the Canadian university's strong undergraduate and graduate programs on South Asia, and to encourage public understanding of South Asian religions. The South Asian Religions Distinguished Lectureship will foreground interdisciplinary approaches to the study of religion in South Asia and will consist of one major lecture by an established scholar every academic year.

Peterson presented "Religions and Cultures in Conversation: the Tamil Protestant Poetry of Vedanayaka Sastri."  The paper was based on Peterson's study of Bethlehem Kuravañci (1800/revised1820), a celebrated Tamil dramatic poem by Vedanayaka Sastri (1774-1864) of Thanjavur, the first major poet of the Tamil Protestant community in Tamilnadu. She argued that Sastri’s choice of literary strategies was aimed at crafting an “Evangelical” poem resulting in a distinctively Tamil refraction of the Protestantism which had been brought to Tamilnadu in the eighteenth century by German Pietist missionaries. The talk also addressed issues of aesthetics, colonialism, missionary history, print culture, and caste.

A Tamil-speaker by heritage, Peterson grew up in Mumbai, India, and focuses on the study of several Indian and foreign languages, including Sanskrit, Marathi, German, and Russian.  Peterson is an author of numerous influential books and articles. Her scholarly work covers Indian and comparative literature (classical and modern); Sanskrit and Tamil language; Hinduism; South Indian performing arts (music, dance, and drama) and cultural history; and women and gender in South Asia.

February 2009

Ruby Thapliya '05 Wins Law Scholarship

Ruby Thapliya ’05, a second-year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, has been awarded the Rothgerber Johnson and Lyons LLP Michael D. Nosler Scholarship. The award, given to a second-year law student, will provide Thapliya with a clerkship position with Rothgerber Johnson and Lyons during the spring semester this year, as well as financial assistance for her third year of law school.

Thapliya, of Kathmandu, Nepal, was a member of Mount Holyoke’s Model United Nations team and graduated cum laude from the College. She was named the "Most Outstanding 1L [First-Year Law] Student” by her peers at Sturm College of Law. 

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