“WWOOF” Away Summer in Puerto Rico

By Som Liengtiraphan ‘17
University Communications

“What did you do this summer?” is a common conversation starter at the start of the fall semester. Some undergrads picked up work skills internships or made some extra case with a seasonal job. Nina Listro, though,  ‘17 traveled to Puerto Rico and spent part of her summer “WWOOFing” at an organic fruit orchard.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), Listro explained, is an organization that connects farmers to people who want to learn and experience organic farming. Volunteers receive food, accommodation, and the opportunity to “dig in.”

Listro, along with two friends, Katie Wolfe and Steven Whitney, spent three weeks at an organic fruit orchard this summer in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. A typical day on the farm started at 7:30 am with a breakfast of oatmeal. Then from 8:00 to 11:30 am, the volunteers took care of chores and manual labor on the farm. These tasks include planting cacao trees and weeding. This was followed by a three hour lunch break. After the siesta, another three hours of work was completed before dinner.  Dinner was usually included fruits and vegetables grown on the farm.

After two weeks on the farm, Listro, an English Language, Media, and Communications major, and her friends traveled through Puerto Rico before returning for a final week on the farm. On the bus out of Mayaguez, Listro and her friends met a villa ownership and his son.

“My friends (Katie, Steven and Max–a student from San Diego that worked on the farm with us) and I met Luis Ortiz and his son Tsunami on the bus from Mayaguez to San Juan for an organized march against Monsanto,” a US company that specializes in developing genetically modified organism (GMO) seeds.

“Luis owned an oceanside villa that he rented to vacationers, and he had a week where he didn’t have any guests,” Listro explained. “He asked us if we wanted to help clean and paint the villa during that week and in exchange we would get to stay there and he’d pay for our groceries.” The villa was in Rincòn, the surfing capital of Puerto Rico. We worked Monday-Friday for about six hours a day cleaning bathrooms, washing windows, painting the exterior….  The rest of the time we were free to do what we pleased, which tended to be swimming in the crystal clear, turquoise water. Max even taught us to surf on one of our days off!”

“One day we were cleaning the kitchen window that looked straight out to the ocean and saw 7 wild manatees. We hurriedly put on our swimsuits, grabbed some goggles and snorkels, and got to swim with them. I even touched one–It was magical! We worked there for a week, and  stayed for a few days longer before we had to go to the airport. We still keep in touch.”

To Listro, this experience was a time of learning. Not only did she learn about organic farming and its lifestyle, she also learned a lot about herself. “What I learned most was to control my own anxiety. There were no parents there and I had to learn to deal with it on my own,” she said. “But I had two friends to support me, and I grew up a little.”

Listro said she would recommend WWOOFing. “Definitely! I wished I had stayed longer than five weeks, but five weeks is a good place to start. I would recommend getting to know the farmer you are working with before you go. Travelling is the best way to be in tune with yourself, and by going, I learned a lot.”

For more information on WWOOF, visit their website.

Elan Bacharach ’18: A Real Life Saver!

 

Elan Bacharach is a freshman from New York City.  This summer he saved a man from drowning in the East River. I caught up with him earlier this week to discuss his spontaneous heroism. Here is his story:

It was too fast to think. If there had actually been any thinking time, I’m sure someone would have come up with a smarter way to deal with it, because what I did was pretty stupid. I work down at South Street seaport, and we train for man overboard drills all the time. They always say the last thing you should do is jump in, because then you have two people in the water. It was the first week of August. It was a maintenance day–if it wasn’t a maintenance day we would have been sailing. I wouldn’t have been there, and who knows what would’ve happened. I was walking back from the bathroom, and the ship I work on was on the opposite end of the pier. And suddenly I hear a commotion. I run over to where this speed boat, a touring vessel, was I figure they were having boat trouble, and I could lend a hand.

I hear a commotion

There’s this guy in the water with a life jacket.  People are trying to pull him up, and he’s bleeding from the mouth…everywhere. Apparently he was a line handler, and the boat he worked on was trying to pull out–it was a massive boat–but the captain didn’t realize that the line was still attached to a cleat. So this guy was trying to get it off the cleat, and it actually ripped the cleat out of the dock, it hit him in the chest and punctured his lung. This spike from the cleat went into his chest, and he was pitched into the water.

elan topsail

There were three or four of us trying to stop the boat with our legs from crushing him into the dock itself. It was a bad situation. There’s all this activity going on, and no one knows what the hell is happening. Finally, we manage to get the boat to stop backing up. And this was a big guy in the water–he’s about 220 pounds. Some other guys from the company he works with come over.  So I figure I should stop and let them handle it. I hand the part of the life jacket I was holding to another guy, jumped over the railing, and I turned around and the guy in the water was gone. The people who were trying to pull him out were holding his lifejacket. His PFD was open, which is how the cleat punctured his lung, and he slipped out of it, into the East River.

The tide was flooding

The tide took him out into the river, and people were throwing life rings for him–there were still a lot of boats in the area.  But he wasn’t really conscious, he was drifting in and out.  He was floundering, and he couldn’t really grab on.  He got 10, 15, 20 feet out, and his head went under the surface. I looked around and no one was doing anything. I remember, someone was yelling “don’t lose him, don’t let him go under.” It wasn’t really doing any good. My grandfather, he died under similar circumstances, he drowned in our pool, so I guess I was kind of sensitive to it or something.

I dove in, and I dove down.

I threw my phone out of my pocket, I dove in, and I dove down. And the thing is, with ‘man overboard,’ you’re supposed to keep a line of sight on the guy at all times. There was someone pointing to where he was, which was good, because if it wasn’t for that, I probably wouldn’t have been able to find him. The East River is really nasty and dirty and dark. I went down a few feet, and luckily, my aim was good, and I found the guy.  I found him and then I got my arm around him and I swam back up to the surface. At this point I’m just treading water with him, because for one thing, he’s a big guy, and he’s just dead weight. Plus, I had my work boots and my rig on me, all my gear for rigging and sailing–which is a lot– and I was weighed down. It was difficult, so I couldn’t do anything but tread water. The current was against me, and he was bleeding everywhere.

Get him to the dock

At this point, another civilian, dove in and helped me with him. The crew of the boat I worked on managed to commandeer a small Zodiac, which is a rubber raft, to where we able to swim him over and get him aboard, and then get him over to the dock. Shortly after that the police came, and took him to the hospital. I went right back to work.

Shaking hands

After the events of that August day, Elan got to shake hands with the Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, and the company of the man he saved.  Elan also had an opportunity to meet Ron Carter, widely regarded as the best jazz bassist of all time, who congratulated him on his meritorious actions.

The man Bacharach saved is recovering from his injuries. Elan has been a deck hand on ships for the past three summers.

Interviewed by Joe Bailey

Lifesaver image by VancityAllie.com/Flickr

Time to Make A Splash: Seven Head to Indy

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Seven members of the women’s swimming and diving team at the University of Rochester – six swimmers and one diver – will compete at the NCAA Division III National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana from March 19-22.

This is Rochester’s largest group of NCAA swimming qualifiers in 20 years – since six women competed in the 1993-94 championships. Those six women scored 125 team points and Rochester finished eighth nationally. It is the best team finish in school history.

The six NCAA swimming competitors are junior Lauren Bailey (Ossining, NY/Ossining HS), sophomore Vicky Luan (South Surrey, Canada/Semiahmoo Seminary), senior Karen Meess (Hamburg, NY/Frontier HS), freshman Emily Simon (Olean, NY/Portville HS), freshman Khamai Simpson (Cutler Bay, FL/Coral Reef HS), and freshman Alex Veech (Binghamton, NY/Binghamton). The diver is freshman Danielle Neu (Hammondsport, NY/Bath Haverling HS).

Bailey, who was the Liberty League Women’s Swimmer of the Year for the second straight year (awarded in December), will compete in the 100 yard butterfly, the 200 yard butterfly, and swim on all three relays: the 200 yard medley relay, the 200 yard freestyle relay, and the 400 yard medley relay.

Luan, who was the 2012-13 Liberty League Rookie of the Year, will swim on all three relays – the 200 yard medley, relay, the 200 yard freestyle relay, and the 400 yard medley relay.

Meess will swim the 200 yard backstroke, and compete with the 200 yard medley relay and the 400 yard medley relay.

Simon and Simpson will swim on the 200 yard freestyle relay. Veech will compete in the 100 yard breaststroke, on the 200 yard medley relay, and the 400 yard medley relay.

Neu will compete on both the one-meter and three-meter diving boards. She already has a taste of NCAA competition. She earned her berth in Indianapolis after competing at the NCAA Regional Diving Meet at Rochester Institute of Technology on February 28 and March 1. She was one of seven divers selected from the meet at RIT.

Rochester has its first NCAA swimming competitors since the 2006-07 season. The relays are reaching a bit of a benchmark. These are the first women’s relay teams to compete at nationals since the 1994-95 season.

The top eight finishers in an event – either individual events or relays – are designated as All-Americans. Those who finish 9th through 16thare designated as Honorable Mention All-Americans.

In two of the seven swimming events, Rochester has a top-eight seeding.  Bailey is seeded sixth in the 100 yard butterfly after her season’s best time of 0:55.83. The 200 yard medley relay is seeded sixth as well with a time of 1:44.46. The swimmers on that relay are (alphabetically) Bailey, Luan, Meess, and Veech.

The 200 yard freestyle relay is seeded 11th with a time of 1:35.20 (Bailey, Luan, Simon, Simpson). The 400 yard medley (Bailey, Luan, Meess, and Veech) is seeded 16th with a time of 3:50.50.

Veech is seeded 20th in the 100 yard breaststroke (1:04.91) and Meess is seeded 20th in the 200 yard backstroke (2:02.74).

Bailey and Luan will swim in the 50 yard freestyle and on the 400 freestyle relay with Simon and Simpson. Meess will also swim in the 100 yard backstroke. NCAA guidelines permit this because those swimmers were already selected for other events and they achieved a provisional qualifying time in the extra events.

The best finish by an individual Rochester women’s swimmer at nationals is third place. Irene “Patty” Rupp achieved that in the 1984-85 season (in the 100 yard backstroke) and in the 1985-86 season (in the 200 yard butterfly). She earned her bachelor’s degree in Molecular Genetics in 1987 and graduated with an M.D. from the University’s Medical School in 1991.

Rochester’s current NCAA contingent have challenging academic majors:
Bailey – Chemical Engineering
Luan – Film & Media Studies
Meess – Biomedical Engineering
Neu – Chemical Engineering
Simon – Biology
Simpson – Health, Behavior & Society
Veech – Psychology

Rochester Alum Builds Youth Engagement at Community Health Center

By Caitlin Mack ’12(T5)
Univ. Communications

Last August, Alykhan Alani ’12 (T5) joined the newly-established adolescent health care team at Anthony Jordan’s Woodward Health Center to address the increasing need for care among youth ages 10 to 19 in Rochester’s Southwest quadrant—an initiative that Alani is helping to spearhead through research and outreach efforts.

“We’re looking to the existing literature and conducting our own research to determine the specific health care needs and barriers to care for youth who live or attend school in the Southwest quadrant,” says Alani. “The goal is to better implement and market services we already offer, and expand our efforts where the need in the community is currently unmet.”

According to a 2011 youth risk behavior survey commissioned by the Rochester City School District, the number of students who regularly saw a primary care provider was around 69 percent. “The importance of preventative primary care for adolescents and their families cannot be overstated,” Alani explains. “What makes Woodward an integral and unique member of this community is that we are committed to meeting our patients’ needs regardless of their ability to pay.”

Alani is one of six fellows currently participating in Rochester Youth Year (RYY), an AmeriCorps VISTA-sponsored program that places recent graduates in community-based organizations for one year to create or expand initiatives addressing various challenges facing youth and families in Rochester. Graduates of Rochester Regional Network colleges, a consortium of seven institutions of higher education in the Rochester-area, are invited to apply to the program, which is based at the Rochester Center for Community Leadership (RCCL) at the University of Rochester.

Through the RYY program, Alani works alongside primary care providers at Woodward to analyze the health needs of youth residing in the 19th Ward and Plymouth-Exchange neighborhoods and build capacity for the implementation of youth programs and services there. Beyond meeting patients’ needs in a clinical setting, Alani also helps link youth to a variety of services, including HSE (high school equivalency) prep, tutoring and afterschool programs, access to food pantries, temporary housing, and conflict resolution workshops.

“Affordable, quality health care is a real need just about everywhere, but especially in this community,” says Alani. “Socio-economic status has profound implications for health and longevity. While we work in a dynamic and vibrant community, we must remain cognizant of the economic marginalization this community has, and continues to endure.”

DSC_0469Alani also conducts ethnographic research that seeks to understand and address non-biological determinants of health. “While we need to meet the immediate need for healthcare in our community, this effort cannot be divorced from the on-going struggle for economic, social, and environmental justice,” he explains. “When we begin to conceptualize interpersonal violence, addiction, housing and food insecurity, interpersonal and institutional racism, and even residential and business zoning as public health issues that affect our collective welfare, we’re confronted with an opportunity to address these challenges in unique and meaningful ways. Social determinants of health are often circumstantially or environmentally imposed on people–mitigating them requires us to continually chip-away at structural inequalities by not only interrogating the ways power and privilege operate in our own lives but also seeking to engage these structures at the institutional and policy-making levels.”

Alani also was brought on to strengthen the health center’s relationship with various youth-oriented community organizations operating in the Southwest quadrant, such as the M.K Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, Teen Empowerment, Rochester Youth Outreach, the Boys and Girls club, schools such as Wilson Commencement Academy and School 29, recreation centers, and faith-based institutions. He conducts focus groups with staff, volunteers, and youth from these partner organizations to ascertain their perspective on healthcare and facilitates the establishment of referral and enrollment networks.

Alani’s passion for community health and desire to live and work in Rochester after graduation was sparked the summer after his sophomore year while working at Anthony Jordan Health Center on Hudson Avenue as part of Rochester’s Urban Fellows Program. “That was my first experience with on-the-ground community health work, which fueled my desire to explore career opportunities within Rochester’s nonprofit sector,” he says.
Alani has maintained ties to Rochester’s public health program through his efforts at Woodward, hosting undergraduate research interns Alyssa Teck ’15 in the fall and Jenna Kole ’14 in the spring. Both were enrolled in Dr. Nancy Chin’s community engagement class.

“I firmly believe that service-learning initiatives allow students to have an engaging and meaningful experience with the Rochester community beyond shopping and nightlife. It can really change one’s perspective on this city,” he says. “Investing institutional resources into service learning programs and expanding the role of campus institutions like the Rochester Center for Community Leadership and University-affiliated partners like the Gandhi Institute is vital to fully realizing not only our commitment to Rochester, but our cherished and sanguine motto, Meliora.”

Last year, Alani completed a Take 5 project studying social capital and community development, which solidified his interests in grassroots and community organizing and non-profit work. He graduated last May with a bachelor’s in international health and society and minors in gender and women’s studies and religion. As an undergraduate, Alani was involved with RCCL, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), MetroJustice, and the Gandhi Institute (where he currently serves as a board member). After he completes his Rochester Youth Year fellowship in August, he plans on continuing to pursue a career in community health work and activism.

Those interested in applying to the 2014-15 Rochester Youth Year Program can apply here. The application deadline is Friday, March 7.

In the Photo: Attendees and speakers at a recent Woodward youth night.

Through Documentary Films, KEY Student Finds ‘Ideas Worth Sharing’

Over the next few months, The Buzz will feature short videos produced by Dan LaTourette ’12, a fifth year Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year (KEY) student who is majoring in film and media production. LaTourette’s entrepreneurial project consists of documentary filmmaking, which captures some of the insightful and interesting things going on around campus. The Buzz caught up with LaTourette to learn a little bit more about his KEY project.

What inspired this project?

Well, first, filmmaking is my passion. Film is a medium that can communicate easily on both an emotional and logical level. Indeed, something can be told to you in a film and then shown to you, capturing an idea both at a conceptual level and a visual level. I use these characteristics to promote and engage in campus activities.

Of all the things you could capture on film, why campus life?

One of the most crucial things I learned over my four years here is that I really can’t absorb all the knowledge this institution has to offer. More accurately, I can’t absorb even a sliver of that knowledge, even if I made a Herculean effort. You don’t realize how much you don’t know until you start finding things out and then you think to yourself, “Wow, this exists? What else is there?” Whether it is a strange new course offered in the Linguistics department or you went inside a certain building for the first time during your senior year, there are countless things that you can easily miss throughout your college career and not even know it. In addition to this, shall we say, natural ignorance, there are moments where you’d like to explore something more but, alas, time is of the essence, and forbids us to take further steps towards quenching our curiosity. I know this has happened to me plenty of times (I mean, I really wish I could have taken a geology class or an artificial intelligence class or, okay I’ll stop…) and it always left me wondering what else could I be missing.

Combining these two unfortunate happenings, natural ignorance and the scarcity of time, I came up with a project that would allow me to film things all over campus in the remaining time I have at this school and place these videos in a nice and neat webpage for anyone to view at any point in time. You will see such things as Mini Baja, breakdancing, audio music engineering, and even stories from individual students about virtually anything.

What message do you hope to share through your videos?

The motto (or tagline) of this project is, “Ideas worth sharing.” It is a play-on off the TED talk motto, “Ideas worth spreading.” Like TED, I see this as an opportunity to make this campus more open to the many ideas and perspectives it holds.

It should be noted, and quite boldly, that these films are not promotional videos, let alone advertisements. My shorts stress on existence of ideas and nuance of ideas as well as emotional intrigue and quenching curiosity. The shorts will not be structured in a way that formally promotes a particular group but more focus on the ideas that they express. So, consequently, promotion is an inherent facet of my pieces even though it is not acknowledged when I begin a project. So it is here I will exclaim my mission statement: To express the existence of ideas and activities happening around campus. It is an observation of the ideas and activities to share within the campus environment.

I hope you enjoy these films as much as I enjoy making them. Maybe you might learn something new or better yet, you might get curious!

Dan LaTourette’s Videos:

UR Baja Driven To Succeed

Inside a Carillon Rehersal

Remembering Mandela

For more than half a century, Nelson Mandela inspired people around the world to embrace principles of freedom, equality, and justice. On Tuesday, Dec. 10, members of the University of Rochester’s Pan-African Students Association invite the campus community to commemorate Mandela at 7 p.m. on the steps of Rush Rhees Library. As the community gathers to celebrate his memory, The Buzz collected thoughts from faculty, staff, students, and alumni, who share their reflections on Mandela’s teachings and the lessons they’ll continue to carry with them.

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Tata Madiba was a moral giant, whose capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness is unequaled. Despite being brutalized by the Apartheid regime, he chose to take the high road and to lead South Africa into democracy, when he could just as easily have led the country into anarchy. I loved how he stood up for human rights—all human rights. I loved his commitment to children, and how he encouraged them to live up to their potential. I loved his leadership. How could one not admire a man who led by example? I loved how he maintained his humility, even when he was President. I loved how he would spontaneously break out into song and dance whenever the opportunity presented itself—the Madiba shuffle never failed to bring a smile to my face. In the present tense, I love the legacy that he has left us with.
And now he is gone.
Hamba kahle, Tata. Rest in peace.

Jennifer Hadingham
Hadingham, assistant director, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, is a native of South Africa and a graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

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I’ve always admired Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, his anti-apartheid leadership as a freedom fighter and the lessons he instilled on the world about peace and reconciliation. I was most affected by Mandela during my studies abroad in South Africa. In this capacity, I was exposed to the resilience of the human spirit and captivated by the way in which those once suppressed maintained hope despite their circumstances and truly believed in a better tomorrow.

Charlene Cooper ’12
Cooper, who studied abroad in Cape Town, was a member of the Black Students’ Union and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority at Rochester. She also was a student editor of the OMSA Chronicle, a bi-annual publication of the Office of Minority Student Affairs.

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As young student activists we trusted the man’s vision and judgment and like very few other leaders he kept the faith of the people until the very end. We will not see his likes again for a very long time.

Eldred Chimowitz
Chimowitz, professor in the Chemical Engineering Department, is the author of Between the Menorah and the Fever Tree, a story of a Jewish-African boy coming-of-age during the Apartheid era.

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During my time in South Africa, I began to understand the concept of Ubuntu through my time of community service in the township of Khayelitsha as a math tutor. Nelson Mandela’s philosophy of Ubuntu inspired me to adopt Ubuntu as a way of life, to become more compassionate and kind toward the needs of others. Ultimately, Ubuntuism encouraged and influenced me to strengthen the development of disadvantaged communities as a global and American citizen.

Maxine Humphrey ’13
Humphrey, who majored in international relations at Rochester, studied abroad in Cape Town as a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholar during the spring 2012 semester.

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I was one of those college students that believed strongly in the anti-Apartheid disinvestment campaign taking place on our campuses during the late 1970’s-mid 80’s. I was indeed moved to action by the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela and the resistance and activism displayed by black South Africans towards a racist government. In fact, I was proud to play a small part in challenging universities to divest from companies who conducted business with the government of South Africa.

I’m am certain that Mandela’s visionary leadership helped to inform my life-long interest in fighting for the rights of the disadvantaged and underserved in our country

Norman Burnett
Burnett is the assistant dean and director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs and the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program at the University of Rochester.

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Nelson Madiba Mandela might have been larger than life, but he was also human. As much as I did not agree with his stand on a few things, he deserves acknowledgement for his courage to publicly stand for what he believed in, which was a source of inspiration to many, especially in Africa. The world is full of many cowards who run the show. Mandela has taught me not to be afraid to articulate my stand on crucial matters, however unpopular that stand may be. I will not say Rest In Peace, for Mandela, it is Rest in Power.

Lendsey Achudi ’14
Achudi is a former assistant to the Ambassador of the Kenyan Mission to the United Nations and a native of Maseno, Kenya.

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Gandhi’s journey of nonviolence as a form of political action was born in twenty years of activism in South Africa, as was our Institute’s founder, Arun Gandhi. We celebrate South Africa’s global leadership in nonviolence and remember the extraordinary life of Nelson Mandela.

More than anything I honor the Truth and Reconciliation processes that Mandela led and supported. What might our own community and nation be like if we stopped to mourn the devastation that genocide and slavery have created in the lives of all Americans?

Mandela’s book Long Walk to Freedom has remained on our staff pick page because of the inspiration we draw from his words and shining example. If you haven’t read it yet, consider making a New Year’s resolution to do so as a way to honor Nelson Mandela.

Kit Miller
Miller is the director of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence and an expert in nonviolent communication.

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As a 2012 summer student in Cape Town, I spent Nelson Mandela’s birthday commemorating his living legacy of service and civic engagement in solidarity with South Africans throughout the nation. It is my hope that, to honor Madiba’s legacy, we will emulate his pursuit of equality and peace, while striving for his remarkable humility.

Katherine Wegman ’15
Wegman, a biology and anthropology major, studied abroad in Cape Town in summer 2013.

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I was amazed by the fact that this beautiful country was freed of apartheid only in 1994. Such freedom and equality was achieved after years of blood and sweat, and with the work of great leadership figures like Madiba. Even though he has passed away, I truly believe his legacy and spirit will breath throughout the country forever—so many people that I’ve met in South Africa proved to be the living models of his values and teachings, endorsing freedom, justice, and equality.

Rachel Park ’14
A chemistry major at Rochester, Park studied abroad in Cape Town in fall 2013.

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Mandela epitomizes a courage and leadership which I attempt to emulate. He demonstrated that strong leadership need not be synonymous with power. His Truth and Reconciliation Commission taught the healing power of transparent communication in the face of atrocity—a lesson which guides my desire to create a “just culture” in medicine.

Martin Wegman ’10
Wegman, who studied abroad in South Africa as an undergrad at Rochester, is currently pursuing a medical degree at the University of Florida. While in South Africa, he served as a clinical research assistant for a tuberculosis vaccine initiative in Cape Town.

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Let us remember Nelson Mandela for his humility amongst successes, his forthrightness in admitting his wrongs, and his steadfast dedication while overcoming challenges. For quite some time the world has had him to lead by example, so in his passing let us never forget that he’s left a plethora of inspiring messages and examples to continue to emulate. One in particular that I read prior to going abroad excited me for my time in South Africa more than any other guide or history book could: “The anchor of all my dreams is the collective wisdom of mankind as a whole. I am influenced more than ever before by the conviction that social equality is the only basis for human happiness.” At the time this conviction felt familiar, but distant, as if it had once been part of American culture but was lost in the daily grind of economic progress. However, once in South Africa, every day I saw, heard, and experienced things that reminded me that I was surrounded by people who wanted nothing more than to see their country truly united as a safe, fair home for all who lived there. Mandela did his best to get the ball rolling; it is now his countrymen’s, and all of our turn, to not let his efforts fade, but blossom. Thank you for giving us the tools for continued pursuit of equality, Madiba. Ke nako.

Laura Lyons ’14
A chemical engineering major, Lyons studied abroad in South Africa during the fall 2012 semester.

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The Buzz will continue to collect remembrances of Mandela through Friday, Dec. 13. Email thebuzz@rochester.edu if you’d like to have your thoughts included on our page.

Student Mentors Inmates at Local Correctional Facility

By Caitlin Mack ’12 (T5)
Univ. Communications

As a participant in the 2012-2013 Meliora Leaders program, Kelly Scull ’14 is making a difference as a mentor at the Monroe County Correctional Facility. Scull’s program, “Loss to Success,” gives women a sense of hope and direction in dealing with issues like loss of money, job, and home as a result of being incarcerated.

Scull is one of five Meliora Leaders that participates in community service initiatives through the Rochester Center for Community Leadership (RCCL) at the University of Rochester. Meliora Leaders create individualized service projects, allowing them to exercise intensive leadership in the Rochester community for an extended period of time. The program benefits organizations and individuals in need while providing a substantial learning experience for the students involved.

“My goal with this program is to empower at least one woman,” says Scull. “We talk about the effects of loss in their lives, but also about goal-setting.”

The New Hope, Pa., native was inspired to create ”Loss to Success” after participating in “Yes Pa,” a program offered through UR’s St. Sebastian’s Society in which college students read a book with inmates.

Scull visits the correctional facility three times a week, usually to meet with female inmates. Topics discussed range from addiction to education, and Scull often sparks discussion with an article. Other days, Scull observes groups that deal with issues like addiction and trauma to get a better understanding of how she can be a good leader and mentor.

For Scull, the most difficult thing about the program has been gaining the trust of the women she mentors.  Most of the women Scull has talked to are usually older than her, between the ages of 25 and 50, and have experienced trouble with drugs and prostitution, among other difficult life experiences. However, Scull found that once she gained their trust, she was able to learn some incredible stories.

Scull says about five women come regularly to her discussions, where she finds that just “having someone they can trust talking to” can make an impact. “You get close with these women and you feel for them,” says Scull. “They’re not bad people; they’ve just made some bad decisions.”

Scull double majors in business and political science and also is interested in psychology and teaching. In addition to being a Meliora Leader, she is president of Sigma Delta Tau, a teaching assistant for economics and political science classes, and plays varsity women’s basketball.

“I really enjoy helping them and it’s my way to give back,” says Scull. “Just getting told ‘thank you’… it’s something I enjoy doing.”

This article is part four of a series that features the Meliora Leaders of 2012-2013. Undergraduates interested in participating in the program should look for information on the RCCL page in the coming months. Information about the program can be found on the RCCL page athttp://rochester.edu/college/rccl/meliora.html.

Rochester Undergrads Raise $20K for Rare Disease Research

University of Rochester student Sarah Gelbard is on a mission to raise awareness of Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), a debilitating neuromuscular disease. Her best friend, Laura Ferrarone, struggles daily with the effects of FA, while Laura’s sister, Sara, also suffered from the disease and passed away in November at the age of 26. The strength of the Ferrarone family, and their work raising thousands of dollars for FA research inspired Gelbard to do the same. She found a powerful ally in senior YellowJacket Galen Dole, whose younger sister Marlise was diagnosed with FA at the age of eight. Together, they set a goal of raising $10,000 for the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA).

All proceeds from the YellowJackets’ April 5 concert were donated to FARA, as well as money raised through the sale of limited edition YellowJackets fan t-shirts. Gelbard and Dole also started a page through GoFundMe, which allows visitors to make online donations.

“Like Sarah, I have watched someone I love lose her mobility and confront hardships that no one should have to confront—all with the sunniest of dispositions,” says Dole. “In honor of Sara and Laura Ferrarone and Marlise, the YellowJackets are proud to raise funds for and awareness of this rare, devastating, and life-shortening disease.”

A nonprofit organization dedicated to curing Friedreich’s ataxia, FARA grants and activities provide support for research, pharmaceutical/biotech drug development, clinical trials, and scientific conferences. FARA also serves as a catalyst, between the public and scientific community, to create worldwide exchanges of information that drive medical advances.

“I know that the curing of a tremendously complicated genetic disease is, well, tremendously complicated—but I also know that it is possible,” Gelbard says, pointing to the Ferrarone family’s work creating a worldwide patient registry for the disease as an important first step. “Sara was the first person to be entered into the worldwide patient registry in Rochester, and perhaps Laura will be the first person to see the benefits of a cure.”

In a little less than two months, Gelbard, Dole, and the YellowJackets have raised more than $20,000 through GoFundMe and concert proceeds. But, their work isn’t done yet. This week, they are making one last push to raise funds through GoFundMe before closing the page on Wednesday, May 1.

“We hope members of the Rochester community will continue to answer our call to action by giving a small amount or by passing this story along,” Gelbard says. “For these efforts to be meaningful for the 15,000 people across the globe living with FA, they have to be continued, and for that, we need your help.”

Computer Science Undergrads Embark on Weekend of “Extreme Programming”

By Blake Silberberg ’13
Univ. Communications

Over the weekend of March 15th, “Hacklemore”, a team of 10 undergraduate Computer Science students from the University of Rochester traveled to Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada to participate in the CS Games. The team, led by captains Julian Lunger ’14 and Emily Danchik ’13, took 7th place out of 22 teams, thanks to strong showings by the team of Charlie Lehner ’15 and  David Bang ’14 who took 2nd place in Web Development,  and the team of Dan Hassin ’16 and Joe Brunner  ’14 who took 3rd place in Extreme Programming.

CSUG-3The CS Games, an annual competition held by Canadian universities, is attended by over 300 students. Although most of the student participants are Canadian, both the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology have sent teams in recent years. In 2011, the University of Rochester team won the competition. This year, the University of Rochester was the only American university to send a team to the event.

Teams consist of a maximum of 10 people, and compete in 15 to 20 different competitions from Friday to Sunday. These competitions are in different programming areas which range from programming theory, which deals with designing algorithms,  to embedded programming, which deals with writing programs which run on small devices. In addition to the programming competitions, there also are competitions in a few unrelated areas, such as sporting competitions and even a campus-wide scavenger hunt.

Throughout the games, teams must also be on the lookout for “Puzzle Hero” challenges, which are timed “mini-games” that cover a variety of topics and are emailed to the teams at random times. During this year’s games, Team “Hacklemore” had to do everything from solving chess puzzles to identifying pictures and diagrams of obscure plugs and wires. “One challenge even had us listen to a highly modified soundfile and figure out what it meant. The file sounded like a short, high-pitched blip–but we eventually figured out that it was three consecutive Iron Maiden song outtakes,” says Captain Julian Lunger. The team also had the opportunity to participate in “Hacking Questions,” where team members were given a limited amount of time to access websites designed for the competition.

CSUG-2In addition to the challenges, the event also featured large social gatherings for all of the participants.”The social aspect is an important and sometimes surprising one at the Games. Some people typically think of CS majors as unsocial; however, the exact opposite is true at the CS Games,” says Captain Julian Lunger. “The teams of computer geeks there are fun, they are wild, and they stay up til 2, 3, 4 a.m. every night.” The Rochester team also had the opportunity to interact with Computer Science students from different backgrounds. “Meeting French-Canadian students was really cool because they have a different culture and think about things in a different way– it’s almost like they are Europeans in North America,” says Lunger.

This years roster included Emily Danchik (leader) ’13, Julian Lunger (leader, captain) ’14, Thomas Swift ’13, Emily Ansley ’14, Joe Brunner ’14, Nate Book ’14, Shuopeng Deng ’14, Dan Hassin ’16, Charlie Lehner ’15, and David Bang ’14.

The Rochester team already has next year’s competition in mind. Captain Julian Lunger encourages any interested students to contact him through email at JLunger@u.rochester.edu.