Amherst in the Field: John Michael Higgins '85

September 9, 2019

John Michael Higgins ’85 was a professional actor in high school when he learned about Amherst from an alumnus with whom he was working.

John Michael Higgins ’85 was a professional actor in high school when he learned about Amherst from an alumnus with whom he was working. Now known for his comedic performances in the Pitch Perfect movies and mockumentaries like A Mighty Wind and Best in Show, Higgins credits the College with the success of his improvisation. “The world that I was exposed to in history classes, English classes, science classes is nothing but material,” Higgins says. “It’s still material—totally fertile, usable material in my present work. I use it all the time.”

Amherst in the Field: Lyndsey Scott '06

May 14, 2019

Lyndsey Scott ’06, actress and software engineer, embodies the driving curiosity and deep versatility of Amherst alumni.

“The freedom to go beyond my first choice”

Lyndsey Scott ’06, actress and software engineer, embodies the driving curiosity and deep versatility of Amherst alumni. A double major in theater and computer science, Scott was intrigued by her first iPhone and wanted to know how it worked. That genuine interest inspired a quest to understand system software that has ultimately supported other, equally compelling pursuits: “I got into iOS development because I enjoyed it, but it became necessary for me to pursue my life as an artist.” Developing applications for mobile devices has made it possible for Scott to attend acting classes, take auditions, earn her SAG card, and complete a screenplay.

“The most valuable thing about the liberal arts education I received at Amherst,” Scott says, “is the fact that I’ve been able to learn from so many different fields…and experiment to see what I liked. It gave me the freedom to go beyond my first choice of a major to different things that would eventually be crucial to my future.”

Transcript of video

 

Amherst in the Field: Chris Lehane '90

December 12, 2018

Chris Lehane ’90, head of global policy and communications for Airbnb, believes that technology platforms have an enormous responsibility for their impact in the world.

An economic model that starts at home

Chris Lehane ’90, head of global policy and communications for Airbnb, believes that technology platforms have an enormous responsibility for their impact in the world. “We’re in a time period where there are some people talking about building walls, where there are travel bans, where you have technology isolating people into these digital bubbles,” he says. Airbnb is doing something completely different: creating community-wide economic benefits through home sharing. “I have yet to see anything that remotely does what Airbnb does.” Amherst students got a closer look at the company’s work when they visited Lehane during the Innovation Trek in 2018.

Lehane, a history major who currently serves on Amherst’s Board of Trustees, earned his JD at Harvard Law School. Throughout a career that has included several high-profile positions in the Clinton Administration, Lehane draws on a love of learning and sense of responsibility that he gained as an undergraduate: “Every day I’m trying to learn, and I do track that back ultimately to my Amherst education.”

Transcript of video

Amherst Alumni in the Field: Darryl Harper ’90

October 11, 2018

Darryl Harper ’90 arrived at Amherst with plans to study psychology, but the possibilities of music were more intriguing.

“Through music, we can travel through time.”

“We can go back to the 17th century, then we can jump to the 19th century, then we can jump to the present day—we can do all of that through music.”

Darryl Harper ’90 arrived at Amherst with plans to study psychology, but the possibilities of music were more intriguing. He majored in music and went on to earn advanced degrees at Rutgers University and the New England Conservatory. Now a jazz clarinetist and composer, he credits Amherst with teaching “skills that are going to serve you no matter what you do.”

Harper is a visiting associate professor of music at Amherst. This fall, he is teaching “Thinking as Improvisation” and “Experiencing Music.”

Transcript of video

Amherst in the Field: Matt Glickman '87

June 25, 2018

For Matt Glickman ’87, entrepreneurship is not about creating something new, but about taking the best ideas from a wide range of disciplines and applying them in new places.

Entrepreneurship

For Matt Glickman ’87, entrepreneurship is not about creating something new, but about taking the best ideas from a wide range of disciplines and applying them in new places.

In this sense, the Amherst economics and French major, who now teaches entrepreneurship at Stanford Business School, says a liberal arts education is the perfect opportunity to unite a wide range of new concepts with innovative uses.

Glickman practices what he preaches. After realizing that there was a global deficit of information on how to support children early in life, he started a non-profit for entrepreneurs working on early childhood development.

“Entrepreneurship is the fundamental building block of improving people’s lives and improving the lives of society,” says Glickman, adding that it’s also about “not seeing problems as problems but as obstacles that you can surmount.”

Amherst in the Field: Luciana Duarte '93

March 21, 2018

Now as the VP and Global Head of Employee Experience at HP, Duarte uses her double major every day in a range of creative ways. “I work at exactly the intersection of English and anthropology,” she says.

At the intersection of English and Anthropology

Luciana Duarte ‘93 laughs when she thinks back to the question so many people asked her when she was a student, “What are you going to do with your liberal arts degree?”

The Brazilian native, originally set on being a literature major, found herself adding a new subject after an experience to which many fellow alumni can relate: She took a class and fell in love with anthropology.

“My eyes were opened to just how incredibly diverse the human experience is and how that spoke to me because of my own diversity of experience growing up,” she says.

Now as the VP and Global Head of Employee Experience at HP, Duarte uses her double major every day in a range of creative ways.  “I work at exactly the intersection of English and anthropology,” she says.


 

Amherst Alumni in the Field: Kirk Johnson '82

February 5, 2018

“Museums are warehouses of our culture’s knowledge.”

Museums are warehouses of our culture's knowledge

From the time he used to sneak into the Pratt Museum late at night to catalog fossils, Kirk Johnson ’82 has always seen the importance of preserving history in three-dimensional form. Now as the Sant Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where he is responsible for a collection of more than 145 million objects, Johnson sees more value in cataloguing natural history than ever before. Then, as now, Johnson believes that the true value of museums is in sharing, not only an understanding of the history of the planet and of humans, but of how the two interact.


 

Amherst Alumni in the Field: Catherine Brownstein '97

September 18, 2017

“My job didn’t exist when I graduated from Amherst. It didn’t exist when I graduated with my Ph.D. But I was able to find it and succeed because Amherst taught me how to adapt, think critically, and carve out a place for myself.”

Sequencing a Better Tomorrow

Catherine Brownstein ’97 graduated from Amherst with a double major in psychology and interdisciplinary studies in evolutionary biology. While pursuing her Ph.D., she found genetics and her vocation. Brownstein entered the field when it was exploding with new developments and now runs a research lab at Boston Children’s Hospital with an emphasis on rare diseases. 


 

Amherst Alumni in the Field : Brooke Kamin Rapaport ’84

April 10, 2017

While studying art at Amherst, Rapaport was first introduced to the complex nature of creating works of art through art history and gallery work. “What Amherst taught us to do was look more closely at things in our environment, at works of art in our environment.”

Public art is a form of democracy.

That’s what Brooke Kamin Rapaport ’84 has come to believe, both from her one-on-one work with faculty artists at Amherst and as a curator working with large-scale sculptures. As Director and Martin Friedman Senior Curator at Mad. Sq. Art, Rapaport oversees the selection, production and realization of vast outdoor installations by contemporary artists in New York City’s Madison Square Park.

“The whole process that was once behind the scenes is now completely open and available for the public,” she notes, “because it’s not a mystery how things are built, how artists realize work; it's an opportunity.”

While studying art at Amherst, Rapaport was first introduced to the complex nature of creating works of art through art history and gallery work. 

“What Amherst taught us to do was look more closely at things in our environment, at works of art in our environment,” she said. “The gift Amherst gave is in that ability to analyze and then interpret back to the public.”

See the latest Madison Square Park Conservancy installation, “Big Bling,” by Martin Puryear, and hear more about Rapaport’s work as a curator.


Peter Rubinstein ’64 on His Path to Becoming a Rabbi

February 27, 2017

“It began in my freshman year. A friend of mine from West Virginia asked me ‘What do you believe? What do Jews believe?’ And I couldn’t answer that question.”

Sometimes a conversation changes everything.

“It began in my freshman year. A friend of mine from West Virginia asked me ‘What do you believe? What do Jews believe?’ And I couldn’t answer that question. It bothered me that I couldn’t. I knew who I was as a Jew but I couldn’t answer that question.” 

Amherst didn’t have a department of Jewish studies, or even a class on Judaism, so Peter Rubinstein ’64 took a theology class with Professor Pemberton instead. And he was hooked. 

It would take several more years, other career interests, and a multitude of classes, but he eventually became Rabbi Rubinstein and recently retired after more than 20 years as senior rabbi at New York City’s Central Synagogue. 

Hear about Rabbi Rubinstein’s remarkable career path and the lessons he learned along with way.


From English Major to Yogurt Maker

November 10, 2016

Amy Klippenstein ’89 and Paul Lacinski ’89 talk about their unusual path to running a successful farm in western Massachusetts.

“I am skeptical of planning.”

Join Amy Klippenstein ’89 and Paul Lacinski ’89 of Sidehill Farm for the inaugural video of Amherst in the Field. Hear about their unusual path to owning Sidehill Farm, a dairy farm producing wildly popular Western Massachusetts yogurt.