Author Archives: Tara Thean

HighSteppers perform on TV, return in time for Dean’s Date deadline

For some Princeton students, Dean’s Date is a campus-wide marathon of suffering; for others, it was a day for dancing on NBC’s The Today Show in Manhattan.

Millions of viewers watched the Princeton University HighSteppers, a co-ed step team at the University, stomp, slap, and shout live in Rockefeller Plaza on May 14. The team arrived in Manhattan at 5:15 a.m. and had its final rehearsal at 8:30 before beginning to shoot teasers for the live segment.

HighSteppers president Somers Fairchild ’15 called the experience “exhilarating,” noting that many of the group’s members had been eager to participate even though the event coincided with Dean’s Date. “Usually it’s kind of… I don’t want to say ‘pulling teeth,’ but it’s hard to get people to perform because people are busy all the time,” he said. “But I got flooded with emails [saying yes].”

After discovering the HighSteppers from YouTube videos of competition performances, The Today Show staff emailed the group to ask if they would perform for the show’s Varsity Week. “Of course that was a yes,” Fairchild said. After the email, which Fairchild received three weeks ago, the group began supplemental practices for their TV appearance at the same time as they were rehearsing for a guest performance at the BodyHype Dance Company spring show. 

The group arrived back in Princeton at 11:30 a.m., giving some members time to continue working on their Dean’s Date papers to make the University’s 5 p.m. deadline. “I napped for an hour and tried to finish all my work,” said Fairchild, who turned his final paper in at 4:58.

Video: Watch the HighSteppers’ Today Show performance below.


Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Mark Nelson ’77


Mark Nelson ’77, right, with Ari Brand in My Name is Asher Lev. (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Mark Nelson ’77’s starring role in the off-Broadway play My Name is Asher Lev is more than a job — it represents what was for Nelson an adolescent validation. The play, which is based on a Chaim Potok novel of the same name, tells the story of a Hasidic Jewish youth whose artistic inclinations do not align with the religious undercurrents of his community. After reading the story at age 16, Nelson came to an understanding from its narrative that “there were lots of ways to be a good Jew.”

Nelson needed to hear that “sometimes parents don’t get it — that one’s particular nature needs to be honored sometimes at difficult cost,” he said, describing the challenges he encountered in reconciling his drive to make art with his family’s ideas about worthwhile pursuits. In working on the play, Nelson has found numerous people on whom the novel My Name is Asher Lev also had profound influence. “A lot of people need that affirmation that sometimes it’s more important to be happy than to be normal,” he noted.

Though Nelson struggled with his family’s views, he soon found a support system in Princeton friends and teachers — many of whom were involved in theater. Theater Intime was “a community of like-minded spirits,” and Nelson found a mentor in the late Daniel Seltzer ’54. Selzer taught modern drama and English; Nelson took every class the professor taught.

“The idea that someone could be a great scholar and actor at the same time was very inspiring to me,” Nelson said.

Nelson is now teaching at Princeton himself as a lecturer in theater at the Lewis Center for the Arts. He holds this appointment during the fall, which leaves him free to act and direct during the rest of the year. This March he received the 2013 Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship, which will allow him to participate in a weeklong master class with six-time Golden Globe winner and five-time Emmy Award winner Alan Alda.

But working with students is a huge priority, he said.

“It’s just really satisfying to help students find their own power, their own voice, their own beauty,” he said. “I’m crazy about teaching.”

Like many of our Tiger of the Week honorees, Mark Nelson ’77 was nominated by a PAW reader. Do you have an idea for a future Tiger of the Week profile? Let us know.

Continue reading

Freshman journalists connect with alumni professionals

Journalists Landon Jones ’66, Griff Witte ’00, and Jim Merritt ’66 shared their experiences with students from the Class of 2016 at a recent reception in Princeton. (Photo: Courtesy Charles R. Plohn k’66)

“I can’t believe they let me do this and pay me for it.” That’s how Landon Jones ’66 described his career in journalism to a group of 20 Princeton freshmen who gathered at his home April 7. 

Jones, a former managing editor of People (and former editor of PAW), said journalism has allowed him to satisfy his curiosity about virtually any subject. His speech kicked off “An Evening of Journalism and Writing,” organized as part of an ongoing effort to create a special relationship between the Class of 2016 and its “grandparent class,” or the class that will have its 50th reunion when the freshmen graduate.

Previous events have included a Campus Club pizza party and an oyster-eating contest at Blue Point Grill (during which Dominique Ibekwe ’16 ate 65 oysters in two minutes). “Tonight’s event will have a somewhat higher intellectual component … but the same spirit,” Class of ’66 president Charles Plohn Jr. said in his introductory remarks.

The evening’s speakers were generally encouraging about the journalism profession, despite its financial challenges. Washington Post deputy foreign editor Griff Witte ’00, son of Michael Witte ’66, said he appreciated the opportunity to be “constantly discovering” as a foreign correspondent. “Your preconceptions about the world are almost always wrong,” said Witte, who is teaching a course at Princeton this semester.

Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Courtney Dressing ’10

Just three years into graduate school at Harvard, Courtney Dressing ’10 has helped to find an earth-sized, potentially habitable planet that may be pretty close by. In astronomical terms, “pretty close by” is still 13 light years — about 76 trillion miles — away, but this is a small distance compared to the vast expanses astrophysicists are used to dealing with.

Earth-like planets are of a certain size and distance from their host stars, Dressing explained, and may thus have surface temperatures that allow them to have the “right” amount of liquid water.

Courtney Dressing ’10 (Photo: Courtesy Courtney Dressing)

In finding the possible neighbor planet, Dressing has become well-acquainted with the Kepler telescope, a NASA-launched spacecraft whose mission is to find planets similar to the Earth circling other stars. She, together with Harvard astronomer David Charbonneau, used data from the telescope to examine red-dwarf stars and 95 of their planetary companions. Red-dwarf stars are excellent candidates for planet hunting. They are about a third as large and one-thousandth as bright as the sun, which makes it easier for scientists to locate planets — one the size of the Earth, for example, would block more of the red dwarf’s light than it would the sun’s.

Dressing and Charbonneau determined that 6 percent of the red-dwarf stars had potentially Earth-like planets circling them, and 60 percent have planets smaller than Neptune. Their results will soon appear in The Astrophysical Journal.

Dressing’s study has gathered considerable public attention, receiving coverage in publications such as Scientific American and the Los Angeles Times. “I think the natural curiosity is to wonder if we’re alone in the universe or not,” Dressing said. “Just knowing that there could be another planet like the earth so close is comforting.”

This is not her first attempt at finding planets — her senior thesis featured an investigation of an imaging technique used to acquire planetary observations. Dressing said she remembers learning a great deal from her independent work in astrophysical sciences, and appreciated her department’s small size.

Like many of our Tiger of the Week honorees, Courtney Dressing ’10 was nominated by a PAW reader. Do you have an idea for a future Tiger of the Week profile? Let us know.

Levine ’71’s concert tribute to Cone ’39 to be screened on campus Feb. 13

Edward T. Cone ’39 (Photo: Robert Matthews/ Office of Communications)

Forty-two years after getting his Princeton diploma, Sir Gilbert Levine ’71 still remembers his studies with musician and composer Edward T. Cone ’39 — so much so that he has created a concert film centered on Cone’s music. A screening of his PBS film, Out of Many, One, will take place in Princeton’s Taplin Auditorium Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. The film showcases an April 2012 performance of Cone’s Psalm 91 by the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Chorus in Chicago’s 2,522-seat Orchestra Hall. 

Levine said he hopes that more people will grow to appreciate the music of Cone, whom he describes as a rare talent in both performance and musical analysis and “a terrific person to study music with.” Cone’s music, according to Levine, is truly original.

“There’s no derivative aspect to it,” Levine said. “I think the hallmark of really important composition is that it just doesn’t sound like anyone else. It’s romantic without being cloying at all.” Levine also said he was enthusiastic about presenting the work of a remarkable but lesser-known composer to the public. The performance, which represents the first ever collaboration between the two Chicago ensembles, also features performances of Bach’s Magnificat and Beethoven’s Eroica.

Continue reading

Meet the grandparents: Classes of ’66 and ’16 bond over pizza

In four years, the classes of ’66 and ’16 will celebrate together at Reunions. Last week, they introduced themselves over pizza. (Photos: Courtesy Marguerite Vera ’79)

Members of the Class of 1966 might want to know that they have just adopted 1,364 grandchildren, thanks to several members of their class who made an early effort to foster a relationship with the Class of 2016.

This year’s freshmen met with their “grandparents” — members of the class that will have its 50th reunion when the freshmen graduate — at a pizza party during intersession Jan. 30. The event began with opening remarks from Class of ’66 President Charles Plohn, after which the two classes shared 60 pizzas in Campus Club.

“Everyone loved meeting the grandparent class,” class council member Gwen Lee ’16 said. She added that many of the freshmen also appreciated the opportunity to meet other members of their own class who were on campus during the week after fall-term exams.

According to Plohn, little seems to have been done to encourage the grandparent-grandchild class relationship in the last few years. “[The pizza party] is certainly the first event of this nature that any grandparent class has done for any grandchild class,” he said. “We decided ‘let’s make something of this.’”

Lee and other ’16 classmates hope to continue the connection. A tentative plan is underway to meet in smaller groups with local members of their grandparent class, class council member Molly Stoneman ’16 said.

Continue reading

Violist Kende ’07 aims to launch an orchestra career, with a little help

Violist Crista Kende ’07 received a master’s from Juilliard and hopes to play in a professional orchestra. Step one: buying an instrument, with help from a crowd-sourcing website. (Photo: Courtesy Crista Kende)
After receiving a master’s degree from Juilliard, violist Crista Kende ’07 found herself on the brink of a music career, but she was missing something crucial: a world-class instrument.
Kende had been practicing and playing on a viola loaned to her by the Virtu Foundation, which lends high-quality instruments to talented students, since she was 14. She had to return the foundation’s 19th-century French viola when the term of the loan ended.
“This was hard, because you bond with this instrument. It becomes like your voice,” she said. “I had all this training, and no instrument.”
Like many musicians, Kende enjoys playing mature instruments that are valued for their history and workmanship. She soon realized, however, that such instruments — handcrafted by famous and often long-departed makers — were in short supply and well out of her price range. “A lot of people aren’t aware of how expensive traditional instruments are,” she said.
Kende has reoriented her search to include more affordable contemporary instruments but still faces the issue of high cost. She currently is using A Viola for Crista, her crowd-funding website, to raise funds for the purchase of a fine viola, promising “perks” such as recordings, lessons, and private concerts in exchange for contributions.

Continue reading

Brooks: ‘Information cocoons,’ lack of compromise plague politics

David Brooks (Photo: Courtesy Wikipedia)
Eleven years after writing a widely circulated feature in The Atlantic magazine called “The Organization Kid,” New York Times opinion columnist David Brooks still sees a societal shift from a culture of self-effacement to one of self-advancement. He discussed how this shift has seeped into national politics in a talked titled “Politics and the Organization Kid” at McCosh Hall Nov. 26.
The ethos Brooks described in his 2001 column — a focus among elite college students on ambition and aspiration to the detriment of character development — has “only deepened with time,” he said. But Brooks noted that the meritocracy has only become more pure, and that the competition to get into colleges and find jobs is stricter than ever before. This has catalyzed a loss of public virtue as well as “a rise in self-esteem, self-confidence, and a tremendous rise in the desire for fame,” he said.
What this means for American politics is less self-restraint and compromise, Brooks explained. He noted that Americans are now more likely to be caught up in “information cocoons.”
“We’ve become more polarized. We’ve certainly tolerated more dishonesty from people who are supposed to be on our side,” he said. Adding to this bleak state of affairs is a demographic shift, most notably where white voters comprise an increasingly thin slice of the electorate and thus cause the Republican party to lost 1.5 percent of its voters every four years. Meanwhile, as the Republicans struggle with the “wrong” side of these demographic transitions, the Democratic Party is forced to govern a country that has lost some of its public virtue in a highly divided Congress.
While Brooks said he is a “political pessimist,” he is still an economic and national optimist. “While I rag on a culture for being too narcissistic, it is simultaneously true that people under 35 are leading this tremendous social revival,” he said.

Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Sean Frazier ’12

Sean Frazier ’12 (Photo: Courtesy Sean Frazier)
Sean Frazier ’12 checks his email once a week at his new job. 
“I don’t need it,” he said. At Quail Hill farm in Amagansett, N.Y., Frazier spends most of his time outdoors: feeding chickens, seeding, weeding, harvesting, and selling vegetables. A large supply of the produce goes to over 250 families that come to the farm – a community-supported agriculture farm – to harvest vegetables from June to November.
“Twice a week the field is covered with people of all ages who come to pick food for themselves,” Frazier explained. “It’s educational.” The rest of the vegetables go to farmers’ markets and restaurants, he said. Though life on the farm becomes considerably quieter in the winter, Frazier still will be busy during the colder months. Quail Hill farm has a winter share supplying root vegetables, alliums, eggs, and greens to participants, and the farmers continue to grow greens in greenhouses.
Frazier first experienced farming while taking a year off from Princeton before his senior year. He worked on Long Island, on “a tiny farm with no machines,” and found the work to be fun and interesting. Before his senior year began, Frazier already knew he wanted to work on a farm again.
“I didn’t really want to leave the farm, but I wanted to go back to school,” he said.
Frazier officially finishes work at Quail Hill farm in December, though he said he hopes to complete a full season on a farm next year. “I don’t see myself ever leaving the farming lifestyle completely,” he said, adding that he hopes to one day live on his own farm. “It is simple, practical work, and I enjoy it every day.”

Do you have a nominee for Tiger of the Week? Let us know. All alumni qualify. PAW’s Tiger of the Week is selected by our staff, with help from readers like you.

Tiger of the Week: Brian Kernighan *69

Brian Kernighan *69 (Photo: Frank Wojciechowski/ Courtesy School of Engineering and Applied Science)
While Brian Kernighan *69 has spent much of his life immersed in the field of computer science, he remains resolutely tight-lipped on the Internet. Kernighan, a Princeton professor of computer science, has resisted the tide of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and even avoids using Gmail because of privacy concerns.
“Facebook’s model is defined on knowing everything they can possibly know about you and selling it,” he said. “There’s a downside in that you’re giving away information on yourself … maybe you don’t have any idea about the real amount of information you’re giving away that can be aggregated into a remarkably detailed picture of you.”
Kernighan writes about Internet privacy in his 2011 publication D is for Digital, a book based on his course COS 109: Computers in Our World. In both the book and the course, which caters to non-majors, Kernighan aims to explain computing technology as well as the political, social, and legal issues that have accompanied new technology to a general audience. He noted that many don’t realize just how pervasive computing devices are today.

Continue reading

Shum ’14 explores tradition and ritual of European coffee houses

This is the third post in our summer series about Dale Award recipients.

Greta Shum ’14 takes notes at the Sacher café. (Photo: Courtesy Greta Shum)
While many Princeton students associate coffee with Dean’s Date and Friday-morning precepts, Greta Shum’ 14 is spending her summer studying the beverage across the Atlantic – not as an antidote to sleep deprivation, but as a rich tradition steeped in artistry and rituals.
Armed with a Martin A. Dale ’53 Summer Award and the German language proficiency she picked up in her first two years at Princeton, Shum left for Vienna June 7 to observe and write about the historic coffee house culture of Vienna. She has visited over 30 coffee houses so far, and hopes to profile each one.
“I brought three notebooks to Vienna and filled all of them in the first month,” she said, noting that she has talked to waiters, tourists, and other coffee lovers to get a stronger feel for the coffee-house culture. Coffee houses became something of a “salon culture” in the area after being brought by foreigners from Turkey and Italy, according to Shum. In Vienna, sitting down with a newspaper and a cup of coffee in a coffee house is standard practice for many. The establishments typically are very elegant, with newspapers available in holders and well-dressed waiters. “People here have developed a very interesting sort of ‘snobbery’ about it the way they have about wine,” said Shum, who is herself slowly learning the difference between “good” and “bad” coffee with the aid of a course at a barista school.

Continue reading

Dale Award sends Dobies ’14 rafting on the Mississippi

This is the first post in our summer series about Dale Award recipients.

Jackson Dobies ’13’s raft, docked on the Mississippi River in Prescott, Wis. (Photo: Courtesy Jackson Dobies)
Having grown up reading stories like Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Jackson Dobies ’14 always had wanted to raft on the Mississippi River with his brother, Justin. In March 2012, he received a Martin A. Dale ’53 Summer Award that would finally let him do it.
“To find out I was getting $4,000 to do something completely outrageous was so cool, and completely ridiculous,” he said.
Dobies’ summer adventure, which he describes as “a kind of Huckleberry Finn old American adventure where we get away from technology and live on the river, cook our own meals and totally support ourselves,” began June 22. Dobies and his brother spent three weeks before the start of the trip constructing a 24-by-8-foot raft from a pontoon boat built in the 1970s (purchased for $4,000). The raft is made up of “two huge 24-foot tubes with a flat deck on top,” according to Dobies.

Continue reading

Princeton’s Rhodes scholars find time to explore

Rhodes scholar Henry Barmeier ’10 at Oxford. (Photo: Courtesy Henry Barmeier)
When Princeton’s Rhodes scholars headed off to Oxford, they expected to find historic buildings, world-class scholars, and the intellectual tools with which to tackle some of the world’s most complex problems. But they got one thing they hadn’t bargained for: free time.
“I just have so much time to use however I want,” Henry Barmeier ’10 said. “My perception of time is radically different [from before].”
For Barmeier, one of the greatest luxuries of the Rhodes experience has been an abundance of time for unstructured learning outside of the classroom. He has used the space in his schedule to learn the guitar, visit art museums, and have long conversations with friends.
“I feel more at liberty now to pursue interests for no other reason than because they’re interesting,” he explained. “That really is the heart and soul of the Oxford experience for me: a shift in what I think it means to learn.”
Scott Moore ’08, a D.Phil. candidate in politics, said he felt his Oxford lifestyle was a good departure from the pressurized, harried culture at Princeton.
“Compare Firestone’s opening hours with those of the Oriental Studies Institute at Oxford, where I did much of my research: 9 a.m. until 6:45 p.m.” he said in an email. “That’s right, you can’t do any work after 6:45 p.m. even if you wanted to. How healthy!”

Continue reading

From mic checks to debates: Student ‘Occupy’ group looks ahead

A week after protests and walkouts at on-campus J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs recruiting events, students reflected on their experiences and where they hope the Occupy Princeton movement will go next.
i-16f0b5286c4f9bdb8bbd95c5fa4aedd4-wb_campus.jpg“The on-campus reaction was exactly as I expected — it’s going to be controversial,” said Evan Warner ’12, a student involved in the Dec. 7 and 8 protests. “What surprised me a little bit was the amount of coverage it’s gotten elsewhere, including The New York Times.”
About 20 students targeted sessions held by J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs last week as part of Occupy Princeton, founded this fall in response to the Occupy Wall Street campaign. The students, dressed in business attire, carried resumés and networked with recruiters who approached them. After directing pointed questions at the recruiters during the sessions’ question-and-answer periods, the demonstrators used the Occupy movement’s “mic check” call-and-response method to air their grievances.

Continue reading

Princeton students travel to New York, participate in Occupy Wall Street

Emily VanderLinden ’13 showed up at “The People’s Kitchen” in Zuccotti Park on Oct. 16 intent on helping out with the community effort, which was set up to provide food for participants in the Occupy Wall Street protests. But VanderLinden came away with more than just a dishwashing experience: She also found herself pleasantly surprised by the spectrum of people she met in the kitchen who were involved with the movement.
i-16f0b5286c4f9bdb8bbd95c5fa4aedd4-wb_campus.jpg“I got engaged with people in a really unique way,” she said, describing conversations with both the homeless and the affluent in the communal kitchen. “A little piece of everyone can support this movement, to be honest.”
VanderLinden is one of several Princeton students who have been making their way to New York City on recent weekends to check out Occupy Wall Street, a series of demonstrations in the financial district that started on Sept. 17, 2011. Demonstrators are largely protesting corporate greed, social and economic inequality, and corporate influence over the government – and several students from the University are joining in, whether as supporters or curious observers.

Continue reading

Devarajan ’75 encourages students to serve and engage

Shanta Devarajan ’75 (Courtesy Serigne Diagne/Flickr)
Nearly 40 years after graduating from Princeton, Chief Economist of the World Bank’s Africa Region Shanta Devarajan ’75 still remembers one particular message from his freshman orientation.
“‘Do something with your Princeton education that will benefit people less fortunate than you.’… Some of the things I’ve learned over the last 10 years relate back to this message,” he told incoming freshmen at the Reflections on Service keynote address held in McCosh 50 Sept. 13. The event was aimed at inspiring new Princetonians to participate in civic-engagement activities on campus and to be proactive in taking on their own projects.
Devarajan described a week he spent in a village in Gujerat, India, working alongside women who live on about $1 a day, as well as his leadership of the World Bank’s World Development Report. While working on these projects, Devarajan began questioning why regions such as Africa and South Asia were still mired in poverty despite numerous government programs aimed at reversing the crisis.
“Programs intended to help poor people are being captured by politicians,” he said. “The problem is that poor people don’t perceive that it’s a problem of politicians – they assume it’s a problem of just life being terrible.”

Continue reading

Panel discusses policy, security implications of bin Laden’s death

Less than two days after the killing of Osama bin Laden, the James Madison Program hosted a panel discussion that asked what his death will mean for America and the world. Held in Dodds Auditorium May 3 and moderated by Madison Program director Robert P. George, the panel included Middle East and Islam historian Bernard Lewis, Near Eastern studies professor emerita Jennifer Bryson, assistant professor of Near East studies Michael Reynolds, and Darren Staloff, a history professor at the City College of New York.
i-16f0b5286c4f9bdb8bbd95c5fa4aedd4-wb_campus.jpgBryson said that it was important to consider what historians would think when looking back on the killing of Bin Laden, as well as the lessons to be learned from the period leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks. One such lesson, which Bryson said that the American government and private sector have “barely begun to learn and must learn more deeply,” is the importance of having an understanding and concern for what foreign populations think when conducting U.S. foreign relations.
“If America were once again to understand foreign populations … the world would find us to be more informed and effective,” she said, noting that the United States has not yet recovered its capacity for good foreign policy since the abolition of the U.S. Information Agency, once “a vitally important part of the U.S. government for foreign outreach.”

Continue reading

Duncan calls for reform, encourages students to consider teaching

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke to students, faculty, and community members about the importance of education reform and the steps necessary for returning America to world prominence in education in a lecture at Richardson Auditorium April 20.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan greets members of Students for Education Reform during his April 20 visit to Princeton. (Brian Wilson/Office of Communications)
“Whether you look at [education] as a civil-rights issue, as an economic imperative, as an issue of national security – I look at it through all three of those lenses – we have to get better faster than we ever have in education,” Duncan said.
He listed five goals he hopes to see accomplished in the next few years: reform of the No Child Left Behind law; an increase in access to and quality of education; bringing together school boards, management, and unions to work on reform; recruitment of the next generation of teachers; and an increased use of technology as an effective teaching tool.
Duncan particularly stressed the importance of a high-quality crop of new teachers to replace the retiring baby-boomer generation of educators, noting that the Obama administration aims to recruit one million teachers over the next four years.

Continue reading

Paper-crane project aims to raise awareness of disaster in Japan

i-ffe6b74c72080272f4d050f12dd5fdae-FPOCrane3924b.jpg i-70c667d82baf0240d3da732320fbce7b-FPOCrane3930.jpg
Bonnie Eisenman ’14, left, and Kai Shibuya ’14 fold paper cranes at Frist Campus Center. To date, organizers of the project have collected more than 5,800 cranes. (Photos by Habin Chung ’12)
With millions of dollars in financial support and supplies making their way to the Japanese earthquake victims in the next few weeks, a group of students from Princeton and Stanford have launched something different to show their support: the Million Crane Project, a nationwide effort to unite major universities, high schools, and other organizations in a massive crane-folding endeavor to raise awareness of the earthquake and its devastating effects.
From 9 a.m. to 9 p. m. Monday through Friday, students, faculty, and community members have been stopping by the Million Crane Project table at the Frist Campus Center in between classes and errands to fold paper cranes. The crane-folding idea comes from the Japanese legend of senbazuru, which promises a wish to anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes. The project team hopes to collect one million paper cranes by May 11 – exactly two months after the disaster – to be used in the creation of a piece of memorial art by artists such as Makoto Fujimura.
“I’ve become convinced that this project will add a new dimension to what international aid is or how anyone should support a country,” student coordinator Shiro Kuriwaki ’14 said. “It’s much more sustainable than donations – it prevents donor fatigue. Folding cranes has no cost.”

Continue reading

Undergraduates attend conference of education leaders

From left, Theodore Schleifer ’14, Alex Meyer ’12, Katelyn Gostic ’13, Tara Thean ’13, Eudes Lopes ’13, Kevin Ofori ’13, Claire Cole ’12, and Emily Myerson ’12 before a panel at the Yale School of Management Education Leadership Conference. (Courtesy Tara Thean)

Students from the Princeton chapter of the national nonprofit organization Students for Education Reform (SFER) headed to New Haven, Conn., March 25 to join the Yale School of Management Education Leadership Conference, an annual event for the education reform community. The conference brought together more than 650 policymakers, district superintendents, nonprofit leaders, teachers, community members, and students for panel discussions on education issues of national importance.

Panelists included Newark Charter School Fund founder and Princeton alumnus Stig Leschly ’92, who discussed mayoral control and school board governance of schools in the United States with fellow panelists Robert Bobb, Daniel McKee, and Kathleen Nugent. The four speakers debated what Leschly called “the near failure of democracies in America” in electing the right leaders to provide school vision and oversight.
Meanwhile, Arthur McKee ’90 of the CityBridge Foundation moderated “Lessons learned from Gates’ investments in teacher effectiveness,” a panel discussing the preliminary results shown by the eight districts funded by the 2009 Gates Foundation donation of $335 million to support components of teacher effectiveness.

Continue reading

Student perspectives on financial aid

In the Feb. 9 issue, PAW took a closer look at Princeton’s no-loan financial aid, 10 years after it was approved by University trustees. Last month, PAW contributor Tara Thean ’13 gathered a handful of student perspectives on the topic, speaking with current undergraduates about how financial aid  has shaped their choices at Princeton.
When Kathleen Brite ’13 walks through FitzRandolph Gate with her Princeton diploma, she hopes to find herself back in the classroom – not to take another Princeton course on international relations, but rather to teach K-12 students.
i-16f0b5286c4f9bdb8bbd95c5fa4aedd4-wb_campus.jpg“Whether it’s in the ghettos of America or rural Africa, I’m fairly sure that’s what I’m meant to do,” she said.
Like many college students, Brite has big goals for the future. As she makes her plans, however, Brite said she does not feel pressure to secure a well-paying job after graduation, largely because of the financial support she has received from Princeton’s financial-aid program.
“The financial aid has given me the opportunity to really focus on making a difference instead of getting a paycheck,” she said. “I know that it’s possible to do both, but most of the things that I love aren’t necessarily high-paying.”
Chern Han Lim ’11 expressed similar sentiments, explaining that graduating from Princeton without loans means that he is free to work where he pleases “without a huge burden on [his] shoulders.”
He added, however, that the aid has not had a strong impact on his career plans. “I sort of knew all along that I wanted to enter the finance industry,” he said.

Continue reading

Chapel Choir tours Europe during intersession

The Princeton University Chapel Choir, shown in front of Prague Castle, performed in the Czech Republic, Austria, and Hungary. (Courtesy Will Harrel ’13)

Almost as soon as they boarded a plane en route to the Czech Republic Jan. 22, the Princeton Chapel Choir already was performing. Flight attendants, upon learning that the group was a choir, invited them to provide “pre-flight music” to replace the classical music typically played on board.

“Everybody from first class and everything came up to watch and listen to us,” Will Harrel ’13 said. “That was really cool.”
Several hours and one connecting flight later, the Chapel Choir landed in Prague, the first destination in the choir’s performance tour of Eastern Europe. The tour, comprising the Czech Republic, Austria, and Hungary, took place over the Intersession break and combined choir performances with visits to sites of historical and musical significance. Close to 50 members of the Chapel Choir took part – and former choir members Jennifer Borghi ’02 and Margaret Meyer ’05, who have both achieved prominence in the vocal arts, joined the group in Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum.” The group also performed pieces by composers such as Gustav Holst, Eric Whitacre, Moses Hogan, Rosephayne Powell, and Pavel Chesnokov.

Continue reading

Wilson School juniors pitch recommendations in D.C.

By this point in the academic year, most Princeton juniors have several things in common: They’ve stayed up late, downed too much coffee, and spent hours in the library working feverishly on their junior papers. But few can say they have discussed their junior papers with administrators like Massie Ritsch ’98, deputy assistant secretary for external and outreach services at the U.S. Department of Education, or bumped into Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on their way to a meeting.
Woodrow Wilson School students met with alumnus Massie Ritsch ’98, at center in blue shirt, at the Department of Education. (Courtesy Jennifer Monson ’11)

A dozen undergraduates did both of those things Jan. 5 when they traveled to Washington, D.C., to present their independent work to Department of Education staffers as part of the Woodrow Wilson School task force “Secondary Education and College Preparation: What is the Federal Role?” Students were given about 10 minutes each to talk about their research and policy recommendations, after which they received feedback on the feasibility of their projects.

“The purpose of the trip was to assemble a panel of real politicians from the Department of Education who work on the ground on all these issues that the juniors spent a semester researching,” Miheer Matre ’11, a senior commissioner of the task force, explained. “It’s neat to share those findings.”

Continue reading

A study break, on ice

Photos by Habin Chung ’12
There were no hockey sticks, shoulder pads, or helmets at Baker Rink on the night of Nov. 11.
Instead, students held cameras, hot chocolate, and each other’s hands as they enjoyed a night of free open skating organized by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students (ODUS). Grateful for a study break, students formed a long line for free skate rentals as they caught up with one another and sang along to the booming background music.
Alva Strand ’13 said skating with her friends reminded her of her family in Norway. “I hadn’t [skated] in six years, so it was really nice,” she said. “It was so much fun!”
“ODUS should definitely do this more often,” said Kai Sheng Tai ’13, who had never skated before the event. “I think it’ll be fun once I get used to sliding on a 2-millimeter strip of metal.”

Padilla Peralta ’06 advocates reform at DREAM Act symposium

i-16f0b5286c4f9bdb8bbd95c5fa4aedd4-wb_campus.jpgIn a Nov. 12 campus symposium on the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, former Sachs scholar and Latin salutatorian Dan-el Padilla Peralta ’06 discussed the urgent need for immigration reform in the United States. 
Speaking to a packed East Pyne lecture hall, Padilla Peralta called the treatment of undocumented immigrants in the United States “inhumane” and “a scathing indictment” of the country’s performance in democracy.

“I want everyone here to dwell for a moment on the inscrutability of the entire process an undocumented immigrant faces,” said Padilla Peralta, who was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York City. “You’re always put in a position of feeling as if you are about to be tried … by a system whose principles defy logic. You are powerless.”

The audience also heard from other undocumented immigrants such as 17-year-old Carolina Munoz of Roselle Park (N.J.) High School. Munoz talked about the “frozen” feeling she experiences when guidance counselors talk to her about applying to college – an option not currently available to her due to her undocumented status.
“It brings us down so much,” she said. “People like me, we have so much potential but cannot take those steps to keep going further.”

Continue reading

Q&A with Garden Project leader Colleen McCullough ’12

Students at the Garden Project prepare the soil on a recent workday. (Colleen McCullough ’12)
The Garden Project at Forbes College offers students a unique Friday afternoon study break opportunity: weeding, harvesting vegetables, or painting the shed. The project, which started in 2007 and aims to educate the campus about the American food system, holds weekly “workdays” where members help out with tasks around the garden. The garden provides fresh produce to the Forbes Dining Hall, local artisan ice cream shop Bent Spoon, the Greening Princeton Farmers’ Market, nearby vendors, and special campus events. The garden also hosts cooking demonstrations, lectures, and movies. The Weekly Blog’s Tara Thean 13 sat down with Colleen McCullough ’12, the group’s transitional adviser, to talk about where The Garden Project is headed.
How has membership been in the new academic year?
This year we’ve got a lot of new faces, and we’re hiring new officers – we’re trying to set more of a precedent for future leaders of the garden. We have six new officers for next year and two unpaid interns training to pick up as officers. We’re hoping that by engaging more students in leadership roles we can increase student involvement so it’s less concentrated in two people – Eva Wash ’11 and myself – and reach out to more people. We’ve also been working with a lot of student groups, like Slow Food Princeton and Greening Princeton, which really helps bring people in. And we’re trying to interact more with the [residential] college system.
How have you been interacting with the residential college system?
We’re technically part of Forbes College, so they help us with funding. The Forbes director of studies, Patrick Caddeau, is very involved with the garden. We advertise our events in the Forbes newsletter, and we have various workdays that we particularly advertise to Forbes residents. It just makes more sense for them to be involved.

Continue reading

Q&A with ‘Top Model’ contestant Jane Randall ’12

Jane Randall ’12 (© Mathieu Young/The CW)
For many Princeton students, summer break is a great time to travel abroad, intern with a congressman, or work on particle accelerators in a lab. Jane Randall ’12, however, spent her summer quite differently: on reality TV. The lean 5-foot-9-inch history major and former varsity lacrosse player appears this month on Cycle 15 of America’s Next Top Model (ANTM), a reality show aimed at giving women a chance to start their career in the modeling industry. Randall, who plans to take a semester off to pursue modeling, spoke with The Weekly Blog’s Tara Thean ’13.
Why did you decide to audition for the show?
I was looking into modeling – I sent my picture to a couple of agencies. Then I was watching Gossip Girl and a little thing popped up about how to audition [for ANTM], so I sent in a picture I had taken in my dorm room.
Can you remember the moment when you got in?
I was really excited when I found out I got in, but it was during finals. Right after I made the show I had to go for a photo shoot in Los Angeles. [Deputy registrar] Robert Bromfield told me that the show’s auditions did not count as an excuse to miss finals, so I got really lucky that I finished all my papers. After the shoot, I went back to Princeton and took a history final at 9 a.m.
Was the show what you expected?
I can never look at reality TV the same way again. Just from knowing how the cameramen tell people to move around, how things can be edited to project any storyline … it’s definitely been frustrating, but it’s exciting to watch. Everything goes by very fast – it’s one of the most physically, immensely exhausting experiences ever. I took the rest of the summer off.

Continue reading

Klein, panel discuss education reform

Leslie-Bernard Joseph ’06, dean of students at Coney Island Prep. (Arjun Jain ’14)

In an Oct. 15 panel discussion titled “Education as the Civil Rights Issue of Our Time,” New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein, Newark School Advisory Board president Shavar Jeffries, and Coney Island Prep dean of students Leslie-Bernard Joseph ’06 discussed educational reform in the United States and the role of undergraduates in the reform movement.

“Students around the world vote with their feet to study at our colleges, but we are not preparing our own students to attend these institutions,” said President Tilghman, the panel’s moderator. “This is the challenge we are here to discuss.”

Joseph, who holds a B.A. in politics from Princeton, kicked off the panel with an anecdote about his sixth-grade student who, unable to answer any questions on a quiz, had simply written “I need help” instead of the answers on the quiz. Joseph keeps the note in his office to remind himself of his mission as a teacher.

“What I realized from the moment I walked into the classroom is that schools look nothing like what they were supposed to,” he said. He explained that this isn’t because of crumbling paint or old books, but rather a missing sense of possibility and hope.

Continue reading

Alumni-initiated prison education program helps students give back

This fall, 54 Princeton students are spending time in prisons – not as inmates, but as tutors and teachers. They’re working with the Petey Greene Prisoner Assistance Program, founded by Jim Farrin ’58 and Charles Puttkammer ’58 in 2008, which organizes Princeton students to help inmates learn basic academic skills.

Petey Greene Prisoner Assistance Program co-founder Jim Farrin ’58. (Courtesy Jim Farrin ’58)

In both the Albert C. Wager Youth Correctional Facility (ACW) and Garden State Prison, undergraduates tutor inmates in reading, writing, and math. Some also have taught courses in health, art history, economics, and poetry. ACW has 1,200 male prisoners, ages 18 to 30, in low- to maximum-security cells; the Garden State facility has fewer hardcore prisoners. Participation in the program helps inmates get into credit-bearing programs in the future.

Sociology major Andrea Francis ’11 describes the program as a great way for Princeton students to interact with people they wouldn’t engage with otherwise. “The prisoners really appreciate us being there,” she said. “The most rewarding thing is giving the prisoners ownership of what they’re doing, and seeing that my explaining something really makes the difference in their understanding of their work.”

Continue reading

Jones promotes green economy in campus lecture

For Van Jones, simply establishing a green economy is not enough. Instead, America must establish what he calls “equitable ecocapitalism”: a clean energy economy that provides equal opportunity and new jobs. An economy, Jones said, “that Dr. King would be proud of.” 

Jones, a former White House adviser serving as a distinguished visiting fellow in the Center for African American Studies and in the Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School, challenged those who do not believe in the power of clean energy during a Sept. 27 campus lecture.
Fossil fuels are unacceptable, in Jones’ view. “You think oil is cool, but to run your country based on oil and coal is to run your country based on death,” he said. Fossil fuels, Jones noted, are made up of the remains of living creatures that died a long time ago – our biological ancestors. “So of course it shouldn’t shock you that if you pull death out of the ground to run your engines, your power stations, that you will eventually have death in the skies and the seas. You are running a society based on death!” he said.

Continue reading