On “Creative Cross-Training”: How Bartending Helped Wesley Straton ’11 Write Her Novel

Submitted on Thursday, 6/30/2022, at 3:11 PM

“In an industry in which writers are often pressured to find work in the literary sphere—editing, bookselling, teaching, etc.—I’d like to offer bartending as an alternative, one that has changed my life, served me well, and helped me write a novel,” says Straton in an essay for Literary Hub. That new novel, The Bartender’s Cure, is inspired by her experience.

Straton describes her life as an aspiring writer, first bartending in New Zealand after graduating from Amherst College, where she had completed a collection of short stories and poetry as a senior thesis. “I’ve spent the decade since working my way through half a dozen bars and restaurants in three different countries, turning my last-resort job into the career that has allowed me to lead a creative life.” 

While acknowledging that bartending is “not for everyone,” Straton notes that it is “refreshingly different from writing” and that the job’s nighttime schedule has allowed her to write during the day. It has also brought her into conversation with a wide variety of customers and co-workers. “If writing is a study of the human condition,” she says, “then there is inherent value to surrounding yourself with as much humanity as possible.”

Writer-in-Residence Min Jin Lee Discusses Asian American Civil Rights 40 years After Vincent Chin’s Murder

Submitted on Tuesday, 6/28/2022, at 2:15 PM

The author was interviewed as part of a June 20 PBS NewsHour segment noting the 40th anniversary of a notorious crime: the 1982 killing of Detroit-area resident Vincent Chin by two white men, which “marked the first time discrimination against an Asian American person was treated as a federal civil rights offense.”

“[R]right now, it’s probably one of the worst times to be Asian or Asian American in the United States,” Lee tells interviewer Amna Nawaz, citing the more than 11,000 incidents of anti-Asian hate reported since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. She describes Chin’s tragic death as a galvanizing event for Asian American identity and political action.

Lee acknowledges “the extraordinary debt that Asian Americans, as well as white women, all oppressed minorities in this country, have for the African American civil rights movement.” She also discusses her efforts as a writer—in novels such as Free Food for Millionaires and Pachinko—to depict Asian characters as individual human beings, because “we can feel empathy and sympathy for human beings. And that’s a very important role of storytelling.”

Washington and Lee University Women’s Lacrosse Coach Brooke O’Brien ’03 Exits for Amherst

Submitted on Monday, 6/27/2022, at 9:03 AM

Virginia’s Roanoke Times notes O’Brien’s departure from W&L to return to her alma mater as lacrosse coach. “Amherst needed a new coach to replace Christine Paradis, who has retired. Paradis led Amherst to the NCAA crown in 2003, when O’Brien—then known by her maiden name of Diamond—was her star goalkeeper.”

The article quotes O’Brien’s explanation that her decision to take the position at Amherst is “a family move”: the College is close to her own hometown and to her husband’s family. 

The article also notes her successes in her 15 years of coaching at W&L. These include guiding the women’s lacrosse team to 13 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) championships, “as well as to the 2017 NCAA Division III final four,” writes reporter Mark Berman. “O’Brien earned ODAC coach of the year honors last month for the ninth time after steering W&L to its 12th straight ODAC title.”

Honoring Charles Hamilton Houston (Class of 1915), the Man who Killed Jim Crow

Submitted on Thursday, 6/23/2022, at 4:07 PM

Face2FaceAfrica.com highlights the life, career and legacy of Houston, the attorney best known for crafting “the civil rights strategy that led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision Brown v. Board of Education, which stated that schools had to be desegregated.”

The article mentions Houston’s education at M Street High School in Washington, D.C., and Amherst College; his time in the racially segregated U.S. Army; and his subsequent decision to, in his own words, “study law and use my time fighting for men who could not strike back.” 

Houston became the first African American editor of the Harvard Law Review, special counsel to the NAACP and a dean at Howard University Law School, “where he trained so many civil rights attorneys, including Oliver Hill and Thurgood Marshall. The latter successfully litigated the instrumental Brown case and became a United States Supreme Court justice.” 

“Houston died in 1950 of a heart attack and so did not live to see the [Brown] ruling,” Mildred Europa Taylor,writes. “But his determination to make a difference in a world of racial discrimination was greatly admired. Essentially, he became known as the Man who killed Jim Crow due to his fight for civil rights, being involved in nearly all the cases between 1930 and 1950.”

Interview with Lawyer Angela Reddock-Wright ’91

Submitted on Thursday, 6/9/2022, at 4:16 PM

Best Lawyers presents a Q&A with Reddock-Wright about “her beginnings, her career, her new book, the impact of the pandemic on the workplace, the appointment of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and other topical legal issues.” She is the founder and managing partner of the Reddock Law Group of Los Angeles and a neutral with the California dispute resolution firm Judicate West.

In the wide-ranging Zoom talk with interviewer Sara Collin, Reddock-Wright mentions several highlights of her time as an English and political science major at Amherst, including directing and touring with the College’s Gospel Choir, “participating in the debate team and serving as a Resident Advisor for the Charles R. Drew Black Cultural House.” She credits her high school English teacher Ed McCatty ’75 with encouraging her to enroll at Amherst.

“Amherst also had an alumni-student mentorship program and both of my assigned mentors were lawyers,” Reddock-Wright says. “Based on seeing them in action and liking what I saw, law school seemed like a great choice for me. And I’m glad I chose that path because I absolutely love being a lawyer, and now a mediator and neutral.”

Professor Nicholas Horton Works to Improve Reproducibility, Equity as New Editor of Journal of Statistics and Data Science Education

Submitted on Wednesday, 6/8/2022, at 12:17 PM

Amstat News: The Magazine of the American Statistical Association interviewed Horton, the Beitzel Professor in Technology and Society (Statistics and Data Science), about his new position and goals as JSDSE editor. He was appointed to the role earlier this year.

“I agreed to be editor because I believe in the mission of the journal as an open-access venue for data science and statistics educators to share best practices, research findings, and approaches to teaching,” says Horton, who has been a member of the JSDSE editorial board since 2010. “I have been planning some [new] initiatives, including a special issue on reproducibility and responsible workflow and additional growth of our coverage of data science education. Finally, it’s important to ensure the journal encompasses diverse, equitable, and inclusive characteristics.”

The interview also includes questions and answers about the history, intended audience and processes of the journal, as well as mentions of its other editors, peer reviewers and administrators. 

Robert Krughoff ’64, Founder of Consumers’ Checkbook, Hangs Up His Spurs

Submitted on Monday, 6/6/2022, at 12:42 PM

A Washington Post column profiles Krughoff, who retired last year from leadership of Consumers’ Checkbook, a now-national publication he launched in Washington, D.C., in 1976 to provide data on, and ratings of, local service providers ranging from plumbers to locksmiths to doctors.

“There ought to be a way to find who does good service work, not just what the good products are,” Krughoff says, describing his thought process in developing the publication. He was spurred to create it after a frustrating experience in trying to get the engine of his 1968 Opel Kadett repaired. “This was before Yelp, before Angie’s List, before the neighborhood message group asking for handyman recommendations,” notes columnist John Kelly. 

The column also describes Krughoff’s early life and education; his experiences as a Bronx, N.Y., junior high school teacher and then a special assistant in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare; and his current life in retirement.

Sara Schulwolf ’17 Wins National Public Health Excellence Award

Submitted on Friday, 6/3/2022, at 3:01 PM

UConn Today highlights Schulwolf’s 2022 Excellence in Public Health Award from the U.S. Public Health Service. A student at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, she co-founded Students for Accurate Vaccine Information (SAVI), “dedicated to building COVID-19 vaccine confidence in the community through education, advocacy, and outreach.”

In addition to describing some of the initiatives of SAVI, which Schulwolf founded along with classmate Timothy Mason, the article quotes a coordinator of the award program; the medical school’s dean; and Dr. Melissa Held, the school’s associate dean of student affairs, who nominated Schulwolf. Writer Lauren Woods notes Schulwolf’s other activities: “She has taught two semesters of middle school health classes with Hartford Health Educators [and] participated in UConn Urban Service Track/AHEC Scholars Program’s Home and Community Care, Covid-19 vaccination clinics and tele-surveillance projects, and also the City of Hartford’s door-to-door Covid vaccination campaign.”

Schulwolf is quoted as saying, “Public health is something that I have been passionate about for as long as I’ve wanted to pursue medicine, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunities and support that I’ve received through UConn that have allowed me to turn my interests into action.”

Amanda Holmes ’85 Is the Woman Guiding Fishtown’s Future

Submitted on Tuesday, 5/31/2022, at 3:43 PM

An article in the Glen Arbor Sun celebrates the recognition of Fishtown, a commercial fishery in Leland, Mich., which has secured a spot on the National Register of Historic Places and the Michigan Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation. Holmes, executive director of the Fishtown Preservation Society, is among the people credited for these successes.

“Earlier this month, the Governor’s Award was bestowed upon FPS for their historic preservation efforts to save, raise and rehabilitate Fishtown from rising water levels,” writes reporter Abby Chatfield. The article touches upon the fishing village’s past (dating back to the 1850s), present and future, and includes a section about Holmes, who lives on her family’s farmstead nearby. 

“Holmes received her undergraduate degree in American Studies from Amherst College. This was followed by a PhD in Folklore and Folklife, along with a certificate in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania,” Chatfield writes. “An aspect of her work that she really enjoys is recording people’s stories (to be unveiled in a future project) while working with others to educate the public that Fishtown is still a working place, not just a tourist center.”

Study Co-Authored by Professor Joshua Hyman Shows That Public School Investment Reduces Adult Crime

Submitted on Friday, 5/27/2022, at 2:27 PM

The University of Michigan’s Record summarizes the findings of the policy brief, which tracked the life outcomes of two groups of Michigan students from kindergarten through adulthood, based on how well the students’ elementary schools were funded.

The brief was written by Hyman, an assistant professor of economics at Amherst; E. Jason Baron of Duke University; and Brittany Vasquez of the University of Michigan. They used data from the Michigan Department of Education, Center for Educational Performance, National Student Clearinghouse and Michigan State Police. Among other findings, they determined that young people who attended better-funded schools were 15 percent less likely to be arrested by age 30, and that these reductions in crime alone saved more than enough money to make up for increases in school funding.

“[E]arly investments in children’s lives can prevent contact with the adult criminal justice system,” the researchers wrote. “Specifically, our results show that improving public schools can keep children on a path of increased school engagement and completion, thereby lowering their criminal propensity in adulthood.”

The Presidential Exit Interview

Submitted on Wednesday, 5/25/2022, at 4:30 PM

Biddy Martin is one of nine departing college and university presidents quoted in a May 17 article for The Chronicle of Higher Education. She shares her thoughts on Amherst’s successful and ongoing efforts to diversify and support the student body during her 11-year term, which ends this summer.

Chronicle writer Eric Kelderman begins by acknowledging Martin’s 2008–11 role as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, which she left to assume the presidency at Amherst. He then cites statistics that reflect the College’s increased diversity: “A plurality of enrolled students are persons of color, as are 60 percent of students admitted for the fall. In addition, more than 20 percent of those admitted are first-generation college students, and more than a quarter of enrolled students are eligible to receive Pell Grants.”

“I think the much harder and more interesting challenge is what to do once you have a diverse student body,” Martin is quoted as saying. “And what do you do to ensure that it feels good to be at a place like Amherst, regardless of your background, and that you can go in the direction that you really most want to go?”

Can Social Entrepreneur Rosanne Haggerty ’82, H’03, End Homelessness in the U.S.?

Submitted on Monday, 5/23/2022, at 7:08 PM

Harvard Business School Senior Lecturer Brian Trelstad appears on a recent episode of the school’s Cold Call podcast to discuss Haggerty’s nonprofit Community Solutions and its Built For Zero movement, which works to end homelessness in communities nationwide.

Speaking with podcast host Brian Kenney, Trelstad outlines what makes Haggerty “an exceptional social entrepreneur” from whom the business world can learn important lessons. The two men talk about Haggerty’s earlier career and leadership style, and consider the approach, challenges and successes of Community Solutions, which last year received $100 million from the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition to continue its work. Also mentioned on the episode is Jake Maguire ’07, director of communications for Community Solutions.

Though Haggerty herself does not appear on the Cold Call podcast, she does speak with President Biddy Martin about her mission on the April 27 episode of Amherst’s Bicentennial podcast.

Professor Austin Sarat Discusses Presidential Clemency on “The Takeaway”

Submitted on Friday, 5/20/2022, at 5:03 PM

Sarat, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, appeared on an April 2022 episode of WNYC Studios’ radio show The Takeaway to comment upon the history and potential of the power of U.S. presidents to grant clemency to those convicted of crimes.

The episode, hosted by Melissa Harris-Perry and titled “I Beg Your Pardon,” aired the day after President Joe Biden issued three pardons and 75 commutations to people convicted of drug offenses or other nonviolent crimes, while 18,000 petitions for clemency were still pending. Sarat gave his opinion on Biden’s actions, and spoke more broadly about clemency as an often unpopular political move that requires a “stiff political backbone and some courage.” 

Also discussed were the clemency review process, conceptions of clemency as mercy versus error correction versus political favor-trading, and comparisons between various presidents’ records regarding how and how often they exercised clemency. Sarat advocated for Biden to commute the sentences of those on death row. “If we want a more equitable use of the clemency power,” he said, “we need to elect presidents with a fine-tuned sense of justice and, more importantly, with a commitment to being merciful.”

Mead Art Museum Introduces “Mead on the Move”

Submitted on Monday, 5/16/2022, at 9:03 AM

TheReminder.com highlights the new program, piloted in fall 2021 and launched in spring 2022, that “brings art education from the museum’s galleries into pre-K through 12th grade classrooms” in the Amherst area. School visits are developed and facilitated by Amherst College student museum educators and led by Museum Educator Olivia Feal.

“‘Mead on the Move’ draws from the Mead’s core teaching themes designed to complement Massachusetts state learning guidelines,” writes Dylan Corey. The reporter quotes Feal’s description of a trial visit to Wildwood Elementary School: “It was a windy day when we visited, so the tissue paper was flying around, and it was hilarious and a great time. I can’t wait for the students to visit the Mead again, but I also love meeting teachers in their classrooms and having the visit be on students’ and teachers’ terms in their familiar spaces.”

Emily Potter-Ndiaye, the Mead’s Dwight and Kirsten Poler & Andrew W. Mellon Head of Education and Curator of Academic Programs, notes that, through the program, “Amherst College students gain a sense of connection and perspective with hands-on teaching skills, while our teacher and student partners build personal and curricular connections with artworks from their local museum collections.”

Jim Steinman ’69, H’13: The Eccentric King of Fairytale Rebellion and Grand Drama

Submitted on Thursday, 5/12/2022, at 7:02 PM

Around the first anniversary of his death, LouderSound.com published a feature on the life and career of Steinman, the songwriter behind such hits as Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell album.

“At Amherst College he wrote a musical version of a futuristic rock take on Peter Pan, The Dream Engine, which laid the foundation for much of his later work, including Bat Out of Hell and Bonnie Tyler’s 1983 hit ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart,’” writes classic rock reporter Dave Ling.

Punctuated with music videos from YouTube and a playlist of Steinman’s songs, the article delves into his “tempestuous relationship” with Meat Loaf and other figures in the music industry, his longtime health problems, his work in musical theater, and the “massively bombastic” energy for which his creative projects were famous.