Lawrence team of student entrepreneurs hit The Pitch out of the park

Despite its baseball-themed title — The Pitch — and its obvious baseball venue — Fox Cities Stadium, home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Class A minor league team — it took three hockey players to collect “the game’s” biggest hit.

Photos of members of the winning team at The Pitch holding their $10,000 check
Team Tracr — Ryan Eardley, Mattias Soederqvist and Felix Henricksson — picked up the first-place prize of $10,000 in cash and $15,000 in professional services.

Lawrence University’s trio of budding entrepreneurs Ryan Eardley, Felix Henriksson and Mattias Soederqvist — all members of Lawrence’s men’s hockey team — took home first-place honors at the first-ever northeast Wisconsin The Pitch competition.

Modeled after the television show “Shark Tank,” The Pitch featured eight teams of student entrepreneurs presenting their business idea to a panel of judges and room full of business leaders and mentors. The competition featured two teams each representing Lawrence, St. Norbert College, UW-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh.

Eardley, Henriksson and Soederqvist wowed the judges with their presentation on Tracr, a software application they developed for forensic asset analysis. The software automates the task of tracing assets acquired through fraudulent activities.

For their efforts, they collected the top prize of $10,000 in cash and an additional $15,000 in professional services (web design/development, product prototyping, marketing, legal advice, accounting support).

photos of the members of Team Tracr making their presentation
Mattias Soederqvist (left) gives “the pitch” for the team’s software application Tracr.

“This is way better than a hat trick,” said a smiling Soederqvist after receiving the first-place prize.

The Tracr application was inspired by an internship Eardley had last summer at Deloitte, a national company that provides auditing, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax and related services. By creating an algorithm, the team has been able reduce the function of tracking fraudulent assets from a 20-hours-by-hand process to a two-hour computer process.”

“We put in so much hard work,” said Soederqvist, a senior from Stockholm, Sweden.  “We spent six weeks completing this in a data science programming class. It was a cool project. And now we are here. It’s amazing.”

Going into it, a confident Eardley felt The Pitch was “ours to lose.”

“We have a product that is proven there is a need for and that being said, makes it a lot easier to market,” said Eardley, a senior from Ile Bizard, Quebec, Canada. “I’m so glad we were able to communicate what our product does and the value that we are providing came through in our presentation.

“Now we want to complete a beta version of our software as soon as possible and get it in the hand of practitioners,” added Eardley, whose father got the last seat on an Air Canada flight to the area and flew in from Quebec for The Pitch. “We really want to gather feedback and test the robustness of the software.”

That $10,000 check will help get the ball rolling in that direction according to Henriksson.

Group photo of all the Lawrence competitors at The Pitch
Gary Vaughan (far right), coordinator of Lawrence’s I & E program mentored the university’s student entrepreneurs — Felix Henrickisson, Ryan Eardley, George Mavrakis and Mattias Soederqvist — for the inaugural The Pitch competition.

“The $10,000 is primarily going toward contracting a junior software developer, who is going to execute our vision and that of our current tech advisor,” said Henriksson, a senior from Helsinki, Finland. “We work very well together, we all have tremendous work ethic and we’re committed to carry this venture forward.”

Gary Vaughan, coordinator of Lawrence’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program and lecturer of economics, watched The Pitch unfold from the wings with the pride of a father of a new-born baby.

“I could not be prouder of these students for their accomplishments, especially the way they represented themselves and Lawrence in this event,” said Vaughan. “Team Tracr’s accomplishment is exciting and the result of a lot of hard work by the students, their professors, their alumni mentors, their parents and as international student-athletes, the support of their host families.”

Both the local host families for Eardley and Soederqvist attended The Pitch to show their support for the team.

All three Tracr team members extended sincere gratitude to Scott Myers, a 1979 Lawrence graduate and member of the university’s Board of Trustees, who has been instrumental in supporting the I & E program and The Pitch competition, financially and otherwise.

“Our I&E program is amazing,” said Soederqvist. “It’s given us the experience we would not have gotten any other way. It’s definitely been one of the best parts of my Lawrence education.”

“The efforts the I&E program at Lawrence has put forward to make this thing happen has been incredible,” Eardley added. “Behind the scene, there is so much effort that goes into something like this. I’m just extremely grateful to be a part of it.”

Photo of George Mavrakis
George Mavrakis makes his pitch for C-Star at The PItch.

Sophomore George Mavrakis also represented Lawrence at The Pitch. A saltwater aquarium aficionado who started his own business in sixth grade and won the 2016 LaunchLU contest, Mavrakis presented C-Star, a commercial product designed to eliminate one of the least favorite jobs of owning a fish tank: cleaning the sand.

Second place honors at The Pitch were awarded to Abbie Merrill from UW-Oshkosh for her “In Our Hands” political app, which enables users to comment on upcoming legislation. She received $5,000 in cash and $10,000 in professional services.

The Pitch was organized by The Fox Connection, a collaboration of academic institutions in northeast Wisconsin to enhance entrepreneurial education and opportunity for area students.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Lawrence honors two Appleton teachers as “outstanding educators”

A pair of Appleton high school teachers will be recognized Sunday, May 7 as recipients of Lawrence University’s 2017 Outstanding Teaching in Wisconsin Award.

Marlyce Reed, a history teacher at Appleton North, and Pat Schwanke, who teaches history and psychology at Appleton East, will be honored as outstanding educators.

Head shot of Marlyce Reed
Marlyce Reed

Both will receive a certificate, a citation and a monetary award from Lawrence President Mark Burstein in ceremonies at the president’s house. Their respective schools also will receive $250 for library acquisitions.

Recipients are nominated by Lawrence seniors and selected on their abilities to communicate effectively, create a sense of excitement in the classroom, motivate their students to pursue academic excellence while showing a genuine concern for them in and outside the classroom. Since launching the award program in 1985, Lawrence has recognized 66 state teachers.

Reed joined the Appleton Area School District in 1991 and has been a member of the faculty at North High School since 2006. Her teaching experience includes AP American Studies, AP U.S. history, U.S. history, history media, civics, e-school civics as well as extensive work in the Gifted & Talented field. Since 2014, she has served as a College Board reader for Advanced Placement U.S. history exams.

North honored Reed in 2011 with its Teacher of the Year award and she is a three-time recipient of the Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth Excellent Educator Award.

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“Ms. Reed is a teacher who takes her role as an educator with utmost seriousness and treats her students as scholars in their own right.”
— Lawrence senior Gabriel Peterson
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She created the first International Community Problems Solving Team featuring students from North High School and Shchuchye, Russia. They worked collaboratively to address safety issues related to a Cold War chemical weapons depot near the village of Shchuchye. Reed worked with numerous Russian government officials, the U.S. State and Defense Departments, the Green Cross, Parsons Company and local Shchuchye residents to establish safety programs and protocols to promote acceptance of the weapons deconstruction plant built by the U.S. government.

Lawrence senior Gabriel Peterson, who nominated Reed for the award, described her as “a dedicated, wise and hard-working teacher.”

“Ms. Reed is a teacher who takes her role as an educator with utmost seriousness and treats her students as scholars in their own right, helping them grow academically and personally through her often-rigorous curriculum,” Peterson wrote in his nomination. “Her holistic approach to teaching also gives her students valuable skills in writing and critical thinking, preparing many for further education and giving all an expanded mindset.”

Originally from Independence, Iowa and a graduate of Wisconsin’s Wonewoc-Center High School, Reed earned a bachelor of music degree from UW-Stevens Point and a master’s degree in music from Northwestern University. She also received certification in history and broad field social studies from Lawrence.

Head shot of Pat Schwanke
Pat Schwanke ’83

Schwanke has taught at East High School since 1985 and served as the head coach of the Patriots football team for the past 26 years.

He is a member of the American Psychological Association and since 2011, has been active in the Fox Valley chapter of Voices of Men, an organization that works to end sexual assault and domestic violence. From 2012-16, Schwanke coordinated the Appleton East Tackles Cancer initiative. He was presented the Helen and Ade Dillon Award in 2015, which honors an AASD staff member “who encourages a balanced life for students through excellence in education and involvement in student activities outside of the classroom.”

“Pat cares about each of his students individually and knows how to make sure every student will succeed and reach their highest potential,” Lawrence senior Aubrey Scott wrote in her nomination of Schwanke. “He always made every topic exciting and engaging. It was in Pat’s class that I first found a love for psychology and realized that I want to teach it someday and pass on that love to others, just as he does for his students.

“I hope that I can someday leave an impact on my students like Pat did with his,” Scott added. “I think any of my classmates would agree with me that he deserves this award more than anyone.”

A native of Menasha, Schwanke graduated from Lawrence in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology/secondary education with teacher certifications in broad field social studies, economics, history, political science and psychology.

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“It was in Pat’s class that I first found a love for psychology and realized that I want to teach it someday…I hope that I can someday leave an impact on my students like Pat did with his.”
— Lawrence senior Aubrey Scott
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A former standout tight end on the Lawrence football team who helped the Vikings win three consecutive conference championships, Schwanke was inducted into the Lawrence Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

 

 

Christopher D. Card named vice president for student life

As a college administrator with nearly 20 years of experience working closely with students, Christopher D. Card is passionate about making campus communities rigorous places for learning and personal development.

Headshot of Christopher Card
Christopher D. Card

He will soon share that passion with Lawrence University students. Lawrence President Mark Burstein announced Thursday (5/4) the appointment of Card as the university’s vice president for student life following a national search that generated more than 100 candidates.

Currently the dean of students at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., Card, 46, begins his duties at Lawrence August 1. He will oversee a staff of more than 40 professionals and manage all aspects of campus life (residence life, campus activities and Greek life), career services, the diversity center, health and wellness programs, international student services, spiritual and religious life, the volunteer center and the operations of the Warch Campus Center.

Since 1998, Card has worked with students at Trinity in a series of roles of increased responsibility. After joining the Trinity administration as assistant dean of students, he was promoted to associate dean in 2001. He spent part of the 2014-15 academic year as interim dean of students before being named dean in April of 2015.

In announcing the appointment, Burstein said Card emerged from “a wonderful set of finalists who exhibited real and very different strengths.”

“Throughout the interview process, Chris’ passion for creating a vibrant student-centered community in a liberal arts college setting, his focus on nurturing relationships and his deep commitment to learning were apparent,” said Burstein. “I’m confident we selected the right candidate for Lawrence at this time. His passion for joining us and deep understanding of who we are only confirm our decision.”

At Trinity, where he leads a team of three deans, Card said he was particularly proud of his efforts to direct the academic and personal goals of students, especially those who feel “they dwell on the periphery of the dominant campus culture.”

Photo of Christopher Card speaking with a student“From my introduction to student affairs as an undergraduate resident assistant to my current position, I’ve sought to ensure that our college communities evolve as welcoming and inclusive spaces for all students to thrive,” said Card.

“I’ve been focused on trying to develop a campus community where students have a sense of belonging, where they feel comfortable being themselves in the conversation,” he added. “I do believe for us to cultivate and grow good scholars, there has to be a sense of personal investment in the community which I live. I’ve been careful to meet students where they are, figure out how they describe and pen their own trajectory.”

Card said he was drawn to Lawrence as a “progressive, forward-thinking community.”

“As I looked at the challenges Lawrence has ahead of it, what they are trying to do and my skill sets currently, I thought it would be a great environment to connect with,” said Card.

“The people whom I had conversations and met with were great. I’m excited to work with students who are highly engaged with the community. It was a good fit, and a place I believe I can help making some positive changes and develop an even stronger community here.”

Kim Dickson, associate professor of biology and a member of the university’s 13-member search that included four faculty and five students, said she was struck by Card’s approachability, warmth, and thoughtful responses to the committee’s questions.

“It was immediately apparent that Chris is a tremendous student advocate and a strong presence on his current campus,” said Dickson. “As our conversations evolved, it also became clear that Chris is a respected team leader whose work is guided by his commitment to education, respectful discourse and creativity. I think he is a great fit for Lawrence.”

At Trinity, Card has worked closely with the college’s chaplaincy, assisting on issues related to students’ spiritual life and serving as a staff advisor to the Interfaith organization. He has spent the past six years as chair of both Trinity’s emergency management team and the behavioral intervention (threat assessment) team.Photo of Christopher Card at podium

He has been recognized with numerous honors at Trinity, including the David Winer Award for his “commitment to improving the quality of life for students in an especially meaningful way.”

Tamanna Akram, a junior from Dhaka, Bangladesh, president of Lawrence International and a member of the search committee, described meeting Card as “a great experience.”

“Chris spoke about his background as an international student in college which really resonated with me,” said Akram. “He also spoke a lot about building relationships and sustaining them, which I think is very important. When we talked about some problems we face at Lawrence in the area of diversity, he gave us some great examples and ways he would tackle them, which was really impressive. We’re all really excited to have him join us on campus.”

While his on-campus interview was his first exposure to Wisconsin, Card said he’s looking forward to the opportunities the change of scenery may present.

“As a Caribbean man, I’m not going to tell you that I enjoy snow, and the various things I’ve read about Appleton, the winters can be long and harsh,” said Card “But I love the Midwestern values and am curious to see how it plays out on a daily basis.

“I’m eager to see, in addition to Lawrence, what I can bring to the community of Appleton,” Card added. “As an international man of color, I would be interested in whatever engagement I can find in the city. I’m excited to be a part of the Lawrence community, but I am equally excited to see how I can put myself into this fabric of life, that’s Appleton, too.”

Card grew up in St. Andrew, Jamaica. He was his country’s representative at Lester B. Pearson United World College in British Columbia, Canada, earning an international baccalaureate diploma from the elite two-year international school that focuses on rigorous academics as well as international understanding and global service.

He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Clark University in Massachusetts with a double major in economics and international development and social change. At Clark, Card was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Epsilon (economics) honor societies and spent a year studying at the London School of Economics. Following Clark, Card earned a master’s degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Award-winning writer Ann Packer conducts reading

Award-winning novelist and short story writer Ann Packer conducts a reading of her work Thursday, May 4 at 4:30 p.m. in Lawrence University’s Warch Campus Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Head shot of author Ann Packer
Ann Packer

Packer is the author of three bestselling novels that have been published around the world. Her 2002 debut novel “The Dive from Clausen’s Pier,” received the Kate Chopin Literary Award, among many other prizes and honors. It was followed by 2007’s “Songs Without Words” and her most recent, 2015’s “The Children’s Crusade.”

Besides writing novels, Packer also writes short fiction, which has appeared in The New Yorker and in the O. Henry Prize Stories anthologies. Her short fiction, “Swim Back to Me” was included in the 2012 O. Henry Award prize stories collection.

A graduate from Yale University and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Packer has received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Michener-Copernicus Society, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

The Pitch: Lawrence student entrepreneurs competing in $40,000 contest

Four Lawrence University budding entrepreneurs will present their ideas for “the next great thing” Wednesday, May 3 at Timber Rattlers Fox Cities Stadium in front of a panel of judges and an audience of northeast Wisconsin business leaders.

Head shot of George Mavrakis
George Mavrakis ’19

Sophomore George Mavrakis and seniors Mattias Soederqvist, Felix Henriksson and Ryan Eardley will compete for a total prize package worth $40,000 in cash and professional start-up services against students from St. Norbert College, UW-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh in the first edition of The Pitch.

The Lawrence students advanced to The Pitch — think “Shark Tank” for college students — after sharing first-place honors in Lawrence’s recent fourth annual LaunchLU competition.

Gary Vaughan, coordinator of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program at Lawrence and lecturer of economics, said the idea behind The Pitch is to enhance entrepreneurial education and help retain young talent to the Fox Valley and northeast Wisconsin.

“We have bright entrepreneurial students graduating from our local universities and going to Chicago, Minneapolis, New York,” said Vaughan. “We want to identify who they are on our campuses, showcase them at events like The Pitch and invite our CEOs of area corporations to come to support them and talk with them.”

Photo of George Mavrakis delivering a presentation on his product C-Star
George Mavrakis explains his aquarium sand-cleaning product C-Star at the 2017 LaunchLU competition.

“We’ve got lots of talent here. We just have to find ways to communicate to them that they have a future here,” Vaughan added. “We want to provide a forum to showcase our young talent in front of our local COEs and find other ways for corporate leaders to identify our talented students.”

Mavrakis, who started his own business in sixth grade and won the 2016 LaunchLU contest, will present C-Star, a commercial product designed to eliminate one of the least favorite jobs of owning a fish tank: clean the sand in salt water aquariums.

The starfish-shaped device stirs up sediment in the sand, providing food for coral while allowing the excess to be flushed through the filter system. The device can be programmed to operate at night while you’re sleeping so the tank is always clear when you’re awake. Mavrakis is working on a solar-powered prototype that would work off the aquarium’s own light.

Soederqvist, Henriksson and Eardley, teammates on the Lawrence hockey team, will compete as team FA Analytics. They will pitch Tracr, a software application they developed for forensic asset analysis. The software automates the task of tracing assets acquired through fraudulent activities.

The application was inspired by an internship Eardley had last summer at Deloitte, a national company that provides auditing, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax and related services.

head shot of Mattias Soederqvist
Mattias Soederqvist ’17
Head shot of Felix Henriksson
Felix Henriksson ’17
head shot of Ryan Eardley
Ryan Eardley ’17

“By using an algorithm, they have been able to take the function of tracking fraudulent assets from a 20-hours-by-hand process down to a two-hour computer process,” explained Vaughan. “When you fraudulently obtain money, you’re likely buying stuff with it and you have these assets. From a forensic view, the software tracks down through bank statement and credit card statements and identifies the fraudulent purchases.”

According to Vaughan, proof of concept for Tracr has passed a few people at Deloitte, who said they were on to something and would pay for it if they can operate it.

“I feel like they have a decent chance of working this all the way through,” said Vaughan.

Photo of Mattias Soederqvist, Felix Henriksson and Ryan Eardley making a presentation at the LaunchLU contest.
Team FA Analystics — Mattias Soederqvist, Felix Henriksson and Ryan Eardley (l. to r.) — discuss their software application Tracr at the 2017 LaunchLU contest.

The winner of The Pitch will receive $10,000 in cash and $15,000 in professional services (web design/development, product prototyping, marketing, legal advice, accounting support), while the second-place finisher will receive $5,000 in cash and $10,000 in technical services.

Without making any predictions, Vaughan is confident Lawrence’s “pitchers” will represent the university well.

“Our students, with our speaking-intensive courses we have, will pitch well, they will present themselves professionally in my opinion,” said Vaughan. “I think we have a good chance. I think we can do it.”

Serving as judges for the first Pitch competition will be:

• Maggie Brickerman, gener8tor. Managing director for gener8tor’s gBETA program, a free accelerator for early stage companies with ties to Wisconsin colleges or universities.

 • Mike Daniels, Nicolet National Bank. President and CEO who co-founded Nicolet National Bank in 2000community lender.

• Craig Dickman, Breakthrough Fuel. Founder, CEO and chief innovation officer for Breakthrough Fuel, which specializes in supply chain logistics and fuel cost management.

• Greg Lynch, Michael Best. A partner with the national law firm Michael Best. Lynch advises companies on financing strategies and mergers & acquisitions. He is co-founder of the firm’s Venture Best emerging company practice.

• Neil Mix, Quadrant. A silicon-valley style technologist, product developer and entrepreneur. A veteran of several venture capital funded startups, Mix co-founded a Microsoft acquisition and helped build Internet radio service Pandora from the ground up.

• Zack Pawlosky, Candeo Creative, owner of the nationally recognized entrepreneurial marketing agency based in Oshkosh. He also is the founder of a software development company and a partner in a venture capital firm.

• David Trotter, Winnebago Seed Fund, managing director of Winnebago Capital Partners, the general partner of the Winnebago Seed Fund, a newly formed venture capital fund in Neenah. The fund focuses on seed investments in startup companies in the Fox Valley.

The Pitch is organized by The Fox Connection, a collaboration of academic institutions in northeast Wisconsin to enhance entrepreneurial education and opportunity for area students.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

 

Cultural Competency Series examines role of religious, spiritual life

headshot of Rev. Linda Morgan-Clement
Rev. Linda Morgan-Clement

Rev. Linda Morgan-Clement, Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life at Lawrence University, presents “Imagine More” Friday, April 28 in the fourth installment of the college’s 2017 cultural competency series.

The presentation, at 11:30 a.m. in the Warch Campus Center, is free and open to the public.

John Lennon famously sang of an imagined a peaceful world void of nations, heaven, hell, possessions and religion. While his longing for such a peaceful world resonates with many, most of the world’s population could never envision  such peacefulness without religion and spiritual practice.

Morgan-Clement will lead a discussion of the ways individuals can use diverse commitments and spiritual practices to imagine more than a world without those essential components of many cultures and communities.

The final presentation in the 2017 series will be May 26: “Lesson’s from the Trenches: Activism for Social Change in the New Millennium” led by seniors Max Loebl and Guilberly Louissaint.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Senior Sam Genualdi wins national DownBeat award for original composition

The hits just keep coming for Sam Genualdi.

Head shot of student Sam Genualdi
Sam Genualdi ’17

The Lawrence University senior, who was awarded a $30,000 Watson Fellowship last month, can add 2017 DownBeat Student Music Awards (SMA) competition winner to his resume.

Genualdi has received the “Outstanding Original Composition” award in the undergraduate category for his large ensemble composition “Treelight” in the jazz magazine’s 40th annual competition.

Announced in DownBeat’s June edition, the SMAs are considered among the highest music honors in the field of jazz education. They are presented in 13 categories in five separate divisions: junior high, high school, performing high school, undergraduate college and graduate college.

The composition award is all the more impressive given Genualdi’s own admission.

“I didn’t really get into notated music, written down on the page, until I came to Lawrence,” said Genualdi, a student-designed contemporary improvisation major from Evanston, Ill. “I arrived not knowing how to read music very well, but once I was here, I voraciously tried to absorb as much information as I could to make myself the best musician I could be.”

Patty Darling, instructor of music who directs the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble and teaches jazz composition and arranging, offered Genualdi a commission last year to write  a large ensemble piece for the college’s annual Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend. He spent nine months working on the five-minute piece.

“It’s not your standard big-band music,” Genualdi says of “Treelight.” “It draws on influences from hip-hop, contemporary wind ensemble music and a lot of more spread out harmony. I had one central motif that I drew upon to create the whole thing. I took this short melodic idea and flipped it on its head a whole bunch of different ways to spin it out into the whole piece.”

When he started the “Treelight project, “sorting material” was the initial step in the process.

“I had tons of ideas, way too many melodic fragments and thoughts, and just pages of different stuff, recordings on my phone, different little things that I was thinking about using,” Genualdi explained. “Most of that came from just improvising. I’d sit my phone on the piano, record, and then just start playing. I’d listen back and pick things out. I ended up distilling it to this one idea and I wanted to see how many different ways I could change it.”

Darling said all of Genualdi’s compositions reflect “his exceptional talent as an improviser and as a diverse musician.”

“Sam develops simple motifs into beautiful, extended phrases and integrates many musical influences into compositions that are unique and compelling,” said Darling, a 1985 Lawrence graduate who won a DownBeat award herself in 1984 for best jazz arrangement.

“He’s such a well-rounded musician: a composer, a performer, an improviser and a scholar,” Darling added. “Sam is always open to new experiences and learning more. No matter what paths he chooses, I’m confident he will always be creating beautiful and meaningful music.”

Photo of Sam Genualdi playing his guitarGenualdi plays guitar on “Treelight,” which was recorded last fall by the Lawrence Jazz Ensemble under Darling’s direction. He calls it “the best thing I’ve written that has seen the light of day.”

The title was inspired by family vacations and backpacking trips in the woods and mountains out west when he was young.

“There isn’t an English word for the way beams of light pass through the trees in a forest,” said Genualdi. “There are words in Japanese for this shoot of light coming down but not an equivalent English word. I was poking around and found something that suggested ‘tree light’ might be the closest, but that’s not an actual word. It’s not defined in the dictionary.”

Beyond a combination of shock and excitement, Genualdi said when he learned of his DownBeat award, his mind immediately drifted back to his freshman year and his experiences playing in the jazz ensemble under the late Fred Sturm, Lawrence’s long-time director of jazz studies who died of cancer in 2014.

“I know wherever Fred is, he’s proud, and that makes me very happy, too. I don’t really care much about name recognition, but it will be really cool to see my name next to Patty’s and Fred’s and all my peers over the years who have won Downbeat awards.”

On May 19, Genualdi will release his album “Looking Through the Glass,” through his website. The album is a songwriting project featuring jazz saxophonist and composer Tim Berne and experimental percussionist Jon Mueller.

This is the third straight year a Lawrence student has won a DownBeat original composition award. Tim Carrigg, a 2016 Lawrence graduate, won back-to-back honors in 2015 and 2016.

As one of Sturm’s former composition students, Darling points to the high bar he set as part of the reason for the recent string of successes.

“I’m thrilled our jazz composers are doing well. Fred always expected a lot from his composition students,” said Darling, who has taught in the Lawrence jazz department since 2007. “Fred was always incredibly supportive, dedicated and positive so it’s very important to me that we continue to uphold his traditions.”

Since DownBeat launched its Student Music Awards competition in 1978, Lawrence students and ensembles have won a total of 28 SMAs, including eight in the past seven years.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Lawrence hosts 6th annual Latin American and Spanish Film Festival

Foreign film fans are in for a treat. Lawrence University’s 6th annual Latin American and Spanish Film Festival April 26-29 features eight films from seven countries in four days.

Each film, shown in Spanish with English subtitles in the Warch Campus Center cinema, is free and open to the public. All the films are rated R, for mature audiences only.

A head shot of film director Ari Maniel Cruz
Director Arí Maniel Cruz

In addition to screening some of the best international films from the 2015-2016 season, including several regional premieres, the festival features a visit by award-winning Puerto Rican director Arí Maniel Cruz.

“Since launching the Latin American and Spanish Film Festival in 2011, it has gotten better and more popular every year,” said Rosa Tapia, associate professor of Spanish and one of the festival’s organizers. “We’re thrilled to be able to bring these terrific films to the Fox Cities and expose movie lovers to some of the best cinema outside of the United States.”

Cecilia Herrera, instructor of Spanish at Lawrence, says the festival offers a perfect opportunity to see world through the eyes of other cultures.

“While the directors and actors in these films may not be well-known here, they are among the world’s most talented people in the business. It’s an honor to showcase their work and perspective on universal issues,” said Herrera, co-organizer of the festival. “We’re especially excited to have director Ari Maniel Cruz join us this year to share insights on his approach to film-making.”

Cruz will participate in an audience question-and-answer on Friday, April 28 following a screening of his 2016 film “Before the Rooster Crows,” which won the Yellow Robin Award at the Curaçao International Film Festival Rotterdam, which supports the careers of talented beginning filmmakers from the Caribbean region.

His 2011 film, “Under my Nails,” opened the San Juan International Film Festival in Puerto Rico, winning the Special Jury Award and the Best Actress Award. It went on to be shown at film festivals in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Marseille, France, Brussels and Geneva, among others. It received the Best U.S. Picture Award at the HBO New York International Latino Film Festival.

The festival also features a pair of free receptions at 7 p.m.: an opening reception Wednesday, April 26 and a closing reception Saturday, April 29. Both will be held in the Mead-Witter Room of the Warch Campus Center.

This year’s festival schedule:

A photo of a poster for the movie "The Bride"Wednesday, April 26, 5 p.m. “The Bride” (Spain, 2015, 96 min.)

Two lovers carried away by their passion, defy all moral and social rules while challenging their own judgment in this drama about a love triangle between two men and a woman. When the bride runs off with her escape on her wedding day, their decision leads to devastating consequences.

It received Goya Awards — Spain’s version of the Academy Awards — for supporting actress and cinematography and six Premios Feroz awards, Spain’s equivalent of the Golden Globes, including best drama, best director and best actress.

An image of a poster of the film "The Clan"Wednesday, April 26, 8:30 p.m. “The Clan(Argentina, 2015, 108 min.)

The “disappearances” that marked the regime of President Jorge Rafael Videla in Argentina continued after the dictator’s fall in 1981, but the motive changed from politics to money. Crime family member Arquimedes Puccio kidnaps wealthy men and women, holding them for ransom in his home. He exercises domineering control over his family and, for a time, the tacit protection of police to pull it off.

It won the 2016 Goya Award for best Spanish language foreign film.

Image of the poster for the film "Alias Maria"Thursday, April 27, 5 p.m. “Alias Maria” (Colombia, 2015, 92 min.)

Maria, a 13-year-old guerrilla soldier, must take the commander’s newborn baby to safety in a neighboring town while hiding the fact she is pregnant. Having a child is forbidden in the guerrilla, but when her secret is revealed, she flees to avoid being forced to abort and finds the strength to seek a new life.

Image of a poster for the movie "The Companion"Thursday, April 27, 8:30 p.m. “The Companion” (Cuba, 2015, min.)

Set in 1988 Cuba during the AIDS epidemic, a government established sanatorium houses all HIV patients under military watch. Each patient is assigned a “companion,” who monitors the patient’s activities. A friendship develops between a former Olympic boxing champion and a soldier infected by an African prostitute while on an international mission. First-time director Lorenzo Vigas won the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion Prize for Best Picture.

Friday, April 28, 5 p.m. “Before the Rooster Crows” (Puerto Rico, 2016, 98 min.)

Carmín’s dreams of moving to San Juan vanishes when her mother leaves for the U.S. with her new husband, but her sadness is eased by the arrival of her father after many years in prison. Carmín’s relationship with him forces her to learn to live between abandonment and carefulness.

An image of a poster of the movie "Desierto"Friday, April 28, 8:30 p.m. “Desierto” (Mexico, 2016, 90 min.)

A hopeful journey to seek a better life becomes a harrowing and primal fight for survival when a deranged, rifle-toting vigilante chases a group of unarmed men and women through the treacherous U.S.-Mexican border. In the unforgiving desert terrain, the odds are stacked firmly against them as they continuously discover there’s nowhere to hide from the unrelenting, merciless killer.

An image of a poster of the movie "Neruda"Saturday, April 29, 5 p.m. “Neruda” (Chile, 2016, 107 min.)

Nobel Prize-winning poet and Senator Pablo Neruda denounces the brutal, anti-communist repression of Chilean President Gabriel González Videla in a 1948 speech in the National Congress. Threatened with government arrest, Neruda goes underground, but instead of living the life of a fugitive, he taunts the authorities by appearing in public venues or leaving evidence of his movements.

Winner of numerous film festival awards, including best foreign film (Woodstock Film Festival), best screenplay (Lima Latin American Film Festival) and best actor (Palm Springs International Film Festival).

An image of a poster for the movie "Julieta"Saturday, April 29, 8:30 p.m., “Julieta,” (Spain, 2016, 96 min.)

Julieta and her daughter Antía suffer in silence over the loss of their husband and father, respectively. When Antía turns 18, she leaves her mother without explanation. While Julieta searches for her, she discovers how little she knows about her daughter. Against Julieta’s struggles to survive uncertainty, the film examines guilt complexes and that unfathomable mystery that leads us to abandon the people we love, erasing them from our lives as if they never existed.

Emma Suaréz was recognized as best actress as the title character with a Goya Award, a Sant Jordi Award and a Cinema Writers Circle Award while the National Board of Review, USA named it one of the top five foreign language films of 2016.

The festival is made possible by the generous support of Bemis Company Inc., Kimberly-Clark Corp., 91.1 The Avenue and La Vida Hispana magazine.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Indian tabla, santoor masters featured in World Music Series concert

Musician/composer/educator Zakir Hussain, widely considered one of the world’s foremost masters of the Indian tabla, brings his unique talents to Lawrence University Wednesday, April 26 for the university’s 2016-17 World Music Series. He will be joined by Indian classical musician Rahul Sharma.

A photo of Indian muscian Zakir Hussain
Tabla master Zakir Hussain

Tickets for the 8 p.m. performance in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, at $10 for adults, $5 for seniors/students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749 or online at go.lawrence.edu/boxoffice.

Since the passing of Ravi Shankar in 2012, the San Francisco-based Hussain has established himself as India’s greatest classical musician. Considered by many a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement, Hussain is widely regarded in the field of percussion and in the music world at-large as an international phenomenon. A child prodigy who began his professional career at the age of 12, Hussain was touring internationally by time he was 18.

A 2009 Grammy Award-winner in the Contemporary World Music Album category, Hussain also was voted “Best Percussionist” in the 2015 Downbeat Critics’ Poll and Modern Drummer’s Reader’s Poll.

As an educator, he conducts frequent workshops and lectures each year, has held artist-in-residence appointments at Princeton and Stanford universities and in 201 was appointed Regents Lecturer at University of California-Berkeley.

A photo of Indian musician Rahul Sharma
Santoor master Rahul Sharma

Performing Hindustani classical music, Sharma is a master of the 100-string santoor, which is played by striking the strings with a pair of light wooden mallets. A native of Mumbai, Sharma has collaborated with numerous international musicians, including pianist Richard Clayderman and keyboardist Kersi Lord.

Sharma provided the music for the Hindi feature film “Mujhse Dosti Karoge,” for which he won the Best Debut Music Director award at the 2002 Zee Bollywood Music Awards. During a 2015 visit to Delhi by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, Sharma played songs by The Beatles on the santoor for the royal couple.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Diversity program aims to help individuals find “their authentic self”

Photo of Sandy Eichel
Sandy Eichel

Professional diversity and inclusion consultant Sandy Eichel leads the community program “Finding Your Voice” Wednesday, April 19 at 4:30 p.m. in Lawrence University’s Warch Campus Center cinema. The event is free and open to the public.

Eichel’s presentation will focus on ways for individuals to let go of the past, break free from a life of people pleasing, build a positive future and find your “authentic self.” An engaging speaker, Eichel uses humor and her own personal vulnerabilities to broach difficult topics and expose the audience to perspectives outside of their comfort zone.

The former wife of a Lutheran pastor, a one-time professional opera singer and a consummate perfectionist, Eichel’s seemingly perfect life was anything but. When it became intolerable, she decided to change…everything.

After years of looking outside of herself for answers, she decided to focus internally and seek them from within. She changed her name and her career. She became a financial advisor and discovered an industry in which she saw much need for change. It led to her work as a leadership, diversity and inclusion consultant and facilitator.

Based in Madison, Eichel is active in a variety of nonprofit organizations, including serving on the board of O.P.E.N. (Out Professional Engagement Network), C.A.S.A. (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and MadREP (Madison.Regional Economic Partnership).

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.