Category: Students

Exploring Communication Through Opera

Lawrence opera students utilize sign language in new conception of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass.”

Lawrence University Conservatory of Music student rehearse ASL for the upcoming opera, "Mass."
Lawrence University Conservatory of Music students rehearse ASL for the upcoming opera, “Mass.”

Twenty-one members of the Lawrence University Opera Theatre Ensemble spent two weeks over their winter break learning American Sign Language (ASL). Why would opera singers need to know ASL?

In a twist on the original production of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers, award-winning Director of Opera Studies and Associate Professor of Music Copeland Woodruff has incorporated a Deaf character into the production, resulting in an exploration of communities breakdowns when opposing sides work to understand each other and move forward together. Performers will utilize ASL, as well as Pidgin Signed English (PSE), throughout the performance.

“The use of ASL and PSE underscores the struggle to communicate, particularly between Deaf and hearing communications and within the Deaf community itself,” says Woodruff of his decision. “My inspiration was two-fold: the obvious metaphor of our current society, where people have a difficult time listening to one another, and the inclusion of community members who might not necessarily attend an opera.”

Woodruff has a track record of partnering with community groups to examine socially relevant issues through opera. Mass is no exception. He is working with local partners to explore options for community engagement and dialogue about the history of the Deaf community in the U.S. and the world, as well as Deaf language and culture. In tandem with the show, Lawrence students will take part in planned community engagement activities, including a performance of selections from of the opera at Appleton’s Edison Elementary, which serves both Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students.

Members of the production team hope that the opera will reach roughly 2,000 people in the Fox Valley region.

“It is rare—even at the national level—for a signed opera to be produced and performed,” said Woodruff. “The majority of our area’s theater-going public would not ordinarily experience this type of performance. Mass will open dialogues about faith and inclusion to our community.”

Robert Schleifer, professional Deaf actor, Kristine Orkin, local interpreter for the Deaf, and two professional vocal/style specialists are participating in the production. Schleifer, along with Lawrence student performers, will sign most of the opera’s lyrics in real-time during the performance. Deaf audience members will also be able to read supertitles.

As a part of the world-wide celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday, Woodruff and the Lawrence University Opera Theatre Ensemble will collaborate with members of two local children’s choirs to reimagine Mass, which is structured like a Roman Catholic Tridentine Mass but mixes sacred and secular texts and music. The Celebrant leads the ceremony, and the Deaf character is the voice of the congregation challenging the Celebrant. They argue and search for answers to universal questions together—their diversity highlighted by an eclectic blend of blues, rock, gospel, folk, Broadway, jazz, hymnal, Middle Eastern dance, and orchestral music. Ultimately, they affirm the value of faith and hope for peace.

“Distinctive productions like Mass provide students with a rich educational opportunity to practice being a singer-actor, hone full-bodied communication skills, as well as develop appreciation and respect for the experience of others,” said Woodruff. “We hope that students will learn that the arts can be a powerful vehicle for personal and societal awareness and change.”

Erik Nordstrum ’19, who shares the main role of the Celebrant with Aria Minasian ’19, has learned a great deal about his personal beliefs throughout his work on the production.

“Through working on this piece, I realized that I have not been listening to other people, or to myself, as intently or as consistently as I would like to, and that so many human failures stem from a failure to communicate,” Nordstrum said.

“I’d say some of the most challenging things are also the most enjoyable,” adds Minasian.

“Learning about the Deaf community and applying it to the show has been awesome. I’ve also found challenges with figuring out how to be a female Celebrant in a Roman Catholic Church setting. This show has a lot to unpack and many different ways it can be presented and interpreted, leaving a lot to the performers and production team.”

Opera has been an integral part of the Lawrence voice program for almost 60 years, a centerpiece of the performance opportunities for voice students. Under Woodruff’s direction, Lawrence’s mainstage operas have received national awards, including Hydrogen Jukebox (2017) and The Beggar’s Opera (2016), which shared first prize for the American Prize in Opera Performance in the college/university division. Le comte Ory (2018) and The Beggar’s Opera also received first place from the National Opera Association; Hydrogen Jukebox received third place in the same competition. Woodruff was also named the 2018 recipient of the American Prize’s Charles Nelson Reilly Prize for stage direction.

The production is supported by grants from 91.1 The Avenue and the Jewelers Mutual Charitable Giving Fund and the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.

Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers will be performed February 14-17, 2019, in Stansbury Theatre on the Lawrence University campus. More information, including ticket information, can be found at

An A+ for D Term: Students Offered a Rich Array of Experiences During Winter Break

From Appleton to London to Hong Kong, Lawrence faculty and students used D-Term 2018 to explore ideas, art, research skills and the wider world. D-Term, or December Term, is a two-week mini-term that offers brief, intensive enrichment courses. This year, students had the opportunity to engage with questions of sustainability and historical resilience to disasters, bring a liberal arts perspective to wellness and sharpen practical skills in design and data analysis.

Read more about this year’s D-Term classrooms, whether it’s a room in Main Hall, an urban garden in Hong Kong or the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, through insights from faculty members.

Hong Kong: Sustainability, Livability, and Urban Design

Group of Lawrence students with Hong Kong skyline in background
Students taking part in the D-Term trip to Hong Kong stand on Victoria Peak, overlooking the Hong Kong skyline.

This combined discussion-and-travel course examined sustainable, livable urban design through the lens of contemporary Hong Kong. The class, taught by Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs and Associate Professor of Government Jason Brozek and Associate Professor of Government Ameya Balsekar, spent one week on campus reading and preparing, followed by several days in Hong Kong for on-the-ground study, including meetings with local NGOs, government officials and business leaders. Below are excerpts from Jason Brozek’s daily reports on the opportunities for students during the on-the-ground study portion of the class:

Day 1: The first day of the on-the-ground portion of our class on livability, sustainability and urban design in Hong Kong focused on the city’s history, British & Chinese influences and its emergence as a global trading and financial hub. We visited Chunking Mansions to engage with “low-end globalization” (a concept and case study from one of the books we discussed during our week of prep on campus), did a mapping activity with a scan of a vintage 1930 map of Kowloon, visited the Hong Kong Museum of History and hiked at Victoria Peak. We ended the day by having dinner at the Happy Valley Jockey Club with KK Tse (’81) and Wendy Lai.

Day 2: We focused on the preservation of things like urban green space and historic buildings—the  kind of things some cities have lost as they tried to build and grow quickly. We did a slow-looking activity in Kowloon Park (inspired by Freshman Studies), then compared it to wilder green space by hiking across the Wan Chai Gap trail to the reservoir on the south side of Hong Kong Island. Connected to a different class discussion, we also visited some preserved historic sites. They included a former army barracks in Kowloon Park, the 1912 Wan Chai Post Office (now the Environmental Resource Centre) and the international award-winning Blue House.

Day 3: We kicked off with Rooftop Republic, a nonprofit that helps corporations and schools build rooftop farms. At this site, they grow on top of a shopping mall and donate the produce to local food banks.

Then we met with Rick Kroos ’66, who was the engineer for the HSBC headquarters in Hong Kong’s financial district (as well as many other projects). Rick connected us with a wide range of other speakers, including Billy Wong, deputy head of research at the HK Trade Development Council; Anneliese Smilie from Redress, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing waste in Hong Kong’s garment industry; and Bernard Chang, an architect with the firm KPF.

Day 4: We spent the morning with the staff of Department of City Planning to learn about the HK2030+ strategic vision. Overall, Hong Kong is focused on livability, sustainability and integration with the broader Pearl River Delta (Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Macau and other nearby cities in China). The students asked terrific (hard!) questions about how this plan intersects with climate change, affordable housing, green space, waste management, historic preservation and land reclamation. In the afternoon, we visited the new Kowloon terminal for the high-speed rail connection with mainland China, which is controversial in Hong Kong. Many people here see it as encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy, which is guaranteed under the Basic Law and One Country, Two Systems principle.

You can view the full gallery of photos from Hong Kong here.

Bebop Language and Innovations

Director of Jazz Studies Jose Encarnacion writing musical notations on whiteboard.
Director of Jazz Studies José Encarnación and students make musical notations.

All instruments were welcome in this course exploring how to improvise using bebop language. Among the activities, students studied solo transcriptions of musicians like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown, and applied improvisational concepts. 



With an ever and constant changing world, I make my best efforts to keep our students current with contemporary musical forms and genres.

Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies José Encarnación shares that, “the music, it is always about the music and the musicians of that time period. Their wisdom, understanding, imagination, creativity, commitment and contributions to the music inspires me to introduce it to students. With an ever and constant changing world, I make my best efforts to keep our students current with contemporary musical forms and genres,” continues Encarnación. “I like for my students to listen and understand the tradition of this important American art form called ‘jazz’ and the many transformations it took on along its history. In my teachings, I encourage my students to listen, learn and develop respect for the past so they may add their contribution, knowledge and new light embodying the richness of the past and freshness of the new.”

Introduction to R and Excel for Data Analysis

Careful data analysis has become central to decision-making in areas from politics to sports to medicine. This D-Term course introduced students to collecting, cleaning and manipulating messy, real-world data with powerful programs R and Excel.

Professor Arnold Shober stands in front of a graph in a classroom.
Arnold Shober explains how to manage and analyze data to students in his D-Term class.

For any of the natural and social sciences, quantitative data analysis is a core skill,” explains Associate Professor of Government Arnold Shober.  “It is like reading a book–but for most of us it is more like reading a book in a language we’re just learning.  And just like learning a new language, we make lots of mistakes.  The D-Term course lets my students make those mistakes in a low-stakes, focused environment.  Then, when it really counts, on their own projects, they can focus on their analyses and not the mechanics.  They can write paragraphs–not spell words.”

Happiness: Meditation and Science

Constance Kassor and students meditating at a table.
Professor Constance Kassor and students participate in a guided meditation exercise.

This course took a liberal arts approach to meditation, tackling the question “What is happiness and how is it achieved?” by engaging with ideas of Buddhist philosophy of mind and investigating the ways in which they are being studied and employed by psychologists, neuroscientists and cognitive scientists. This D-Term offering is also an extension of Lawrence’s commitment to student wellness and the whole student.

My hope is that students will come away from this course with tools to help them better deal with stress at Lawrence and beyond.

“This course stemmed from my research and teaching interests in Buddhist thought and meditation,” explains Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Constance Kassor. “Not only did we read about suffering and happiness from both Buddhist and scientific perspectives, but we also spent time engaging in the different meditative practices that we studied. Students were also required to commit to 10-30 minutes of meditation outside of class every day and report on their experiences. My hope is that students will come away from this course with tools to help them better deal with stress at Lawrence and beyond.”

Plague, War, and Fire: Disasters and the Making of London

Three students pose on top of St. Paul's Cathedra with the London skyline in the background.
Students participating in the D-Term London study course stand atop St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Between 1642 and 1666 London experienced war, plague and fire. This December, Lawrentians traveled to London to examine these catastrophes and explore how the city’s responses shaped the future of not merely London, but other cities across the globe. Students visited museums and historical sites and considered how London responded to crisis, commemorated it and confronted it again when German bombs fell during the twentieth century.

“London is such an incredibly rich landscape on which to study history,” notes Frederick, whose D-Term class grew out of an earlier course he taught at Lawrence’s London Centre in 2016. “During these two weeks we were in constant contact with the deep history of this fascinating city, from walking past walls erected by the Romans, to having a lecture from an archeologist about the 14th-century plague skeleton he had laid before us, to exploring the rooms from which Churchill defended the defense of England during the Blitz. I can teach students a great deal about history in the classroom, but there is something to being in the place where it happened that just can’t be replaced.”

(Frederick also adds a dispatch about the updated London Centre: “We got a tour of the new London Center. It’s awesome!”)

Adobe Creative Suite

Associate Professor of Art Benjamin Rinehart developed a workshop setting to introduce students to the Adobe Creative Suite programs, which include Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. “Students, staff and faculty are eager to become proficient in the Adobe Creative Suite programs,” observes Rinehart. “This course is valuable for any field of study and has many applications beyond being an artist or designer.”

Student at computer editing image in Photoshop.
A student explores Photoshop during D-Term.

From creating art to presenting data, knowledge of design principles and programs gives Lawrentians another tool to enhance their own work and offer a broad array of talents to prospective employers. The class is project-centered, allowing each student to explore the multifaceted and contemporary nature of each program. In just a couple of short weeks, students are exposed to methods in image construction, graphic design, typography and more. Students also visited the Lawrence University Office of Communications to speak with designers and see how these programs are used to advance an organization’s materials and mission.

Lawrence welcomes one of its largest classes in history

On Tuesday, Sept. 4, Lawrence University will welcome one of its largest classes in history as more than 425 first-year, transfer, and exchange students arrive for Welcome Week activities, all in preparation for the first day of classes, Tuesday, September 11, marking the beginning of Lawrence’s 171st academic year.

“We can’t wait for them to arrive,” says Ken Anselment, Vice President for Enrollment and Communication. “Though, to be fair, many of them have been here for a few weeks already for fall sports and orientation programs.”

New Lawrentians this year come from 40 states, the District of Columbia, and 25 countries, making this year’s class one of Lawrence’s most geographically diverse ever. Just over 20 percent of the class comes from Wisconsin, followed by Illinois, Minnesota, California, New York, China, Texas, Vietnam, Colorado and Florida.

International students compose more than 15 percent of the class.

Members of the Lawrence University Class of 2019, who will graduate next June, sit for their class photo taken during Welcome Week 2015, a tradition to be repeated by this year’s class.

Staying ahead of the demographic curve

That geographic mix is part of the plan. “The population of college-going students in the country has seen significant geographic shifts over the past decade,” says Anselment. “There are fewer students from our home market in the Midwest, and more students from the West and South.”

Anselment notes that demographic studies project that shift to become even more pronounced in the coming decade. “We have been anticipating this, which is why we have been working strategically to expand our national and international reach over the past ten years.”

Beyond the recruitment benefits, Anselment notes that the strategy primarily benefits students: “From day one, Lawrentians will start building a national and international network with their classmates right in their classrooms, residence halls, and dining spaces.”

Anselment says that this year’s class continues to build on the momentum Lawrence has seen over the past five years with strong academics, strong socioeconomic diversity, and increasing ethnic and racial diversity (more than 25 percent of the class identifies as domestic students of color).

Full Speed to Full Need campaign plays a strong role

Aiding Lawrence’s ability to attract such a strong pool is the continued success of the Full Speed to Full Need campaign, which launched in September 2014 with a goal to build a $75-million endowment that would allow Lawrence to join the small group of colleges in the country that meet the full financial need of their students.

Driven by the support of many members of the Lawrence University community, as well as an anonymous $25-million gift that catalyzed the campaign, the university has already surpassed the $75-million goal, giving President Mark Burstein the confidence to raise the target to $85-million, which would allow the university to provide further funds for students to provide full-need support for students who wish to study abroad during their time at Lawrence.

It’s a bold move, but one that is already paying dividends. To date, more than 180 students have had their need fully met with funds from the campaign, and that number continues to grow with each new class. In coming years, as more of the pledged funds are realized and the endowment continues to mature, Lawrence will be among a small group of colleges in the country—and the only one in the state of Wisconsin—that meets the full financial need of all of its 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.” Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.



Three Lawrence students honored by Wisconsin Visual Artists organization

Three former Lawrence University students have been recognized by the Northeast Chapter of Wisconsin Visual Artists with a merit prize.

Sculpture by student Eryn Blagg
“a^2 + b^2 = c^2” by Eryn Blagg ’18

Eryn Blagg, Omaha, Neb., Kori Looker, Weyauwega, and Rachael Wuensch, Reedsburg, all of whom graduated on June 10, were named recipients of the WVA’s merit prize, which is presented annually for outstanding student artwork at the college level.

Blagg is a sculptor whose work focuses on the intersection of art and math. “In a quest to prove theorems, mathematicians are guided by aesthetics as much as intellectual curiosity,” Blagg wrote in her artist statement. “As an artist I am similarly driven by creativity expression and aesthetics, focusing on creating new objects from nothing, the same way a mathematician creates a logical framework for a proof or problem. My art is an avenue to show that the art world and the math world are the same: complex and beautiful.”

A scupture by student Kori Looker
“Amore Mio” by Kori Looker ’18

Looker, also a sculptor, specializes in figurative work rendered abstractly out of carved wood. She said her  abstract figurative sculptures “convey the connections possible and expression of emotions within relationships. This work draws inspiration from a variety of sources, from bell hook’s emphasis on caring in ‘Teaching to Transgress’ to Michelangelo’s expression of maternal love and anguish in the ‘Pietà.'”

A print by student Rachael Wuensch
“Scarlet Sphere” by Rachael Wuensch ’18

Wuensch’s work combines printmaking with elements of collage. According to artist statement, “personal growth has shifted my interests from representational and symbolic works to more abstract pieces. Using texture, pattern and an intuitive approach. My current work depicts emotion through volume, depth and movement while expanding beyond the picture plane. By combining recycled objects including plastic, fabrics, and wax paper with the printmaking, painting, and embroidery processes, each piece has an independent voice.”

Blagg, Looker and Wuensch all have works in the current Senior Art Exhibition in Lawrence’s Wriston Art Center Galleries.

Each received a $100 prize and a one-year membership in the Wisconsin Visual Artists organization. The merit award honors the caliber of their art itself and is designed to encourage graduates to continue their work in the visual 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.

Seniors William Gill, Elena Hudacek awarded Fulbright teaching grants to Germany, Colombia

Previous trips abroad on off-campus study programs served as motivation for two Lawrence University seniors to apply for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program.

William Gill, a German and government major from Bloomington, Ill., and Elena Hudacek, a linguistics and Spanish major from Lexington, Mass., were both rewarded with Fulbright Fellowships and will spend the majority of their first post-graduation year abroad as English language teaching assistants and cultural ambassadors, courtesy of the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Beginning in September, Gill will make his third trip to Germany while Hudacek travels to Colombia for the fist time. While neither yet knows their official assignment, they will spend 10 months working in a school as a teacher’s aide. As part of the program, each also is expected to devote 10-15 hours per week on a social/volunteer project related to their personal, career, and/or educational interests.

Will Gill
Will Gill ’18

Gill’s first exposure to Germany came as a sophomore at Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam when he participated in a three-week exchange program established by Wayland Academy and a school in Germany. After graduating, Gill took a “gap year” before attending Lawrence.

“I’d been thinking about taking a gap year for a long time before going to college, but I didn’t really want to pay for a program,” said Gill. “So, I asked the school in Germany that partnered with Wayland if they’d hire me for the year just to work. They accepted me.”

He wound up serving as a supervisor at a boarding school section of a large day school in the town of Elze, routinely working 80-hour weeks.

“I was a little out of place,” Gill recalled. “I didn’t really speak much German at that time. I worked really hard, dealt with a lot of difficult stuff, did a lot of informal teaching and assisting. My German improved though, living in a small town where no one really spoke English. That really helped me with the language and the cultural side of things.”

After enrolling at Lawrence, he returned to Germany in the fall of 2017 on a study-abroad program, but extended his stay by applying for a fellowship with the German Academic Exchange Institute. He received the scholarship, allowing him to spend an additional five months in Berlin, conducting independent research that he turned into the thesis “National Myth-building and Reunification for the Nachwende Generation,” which he presented at this year’s Harrison Symposium.

Brent Peterson, professor of German and Gill’s academic advisor, called the Fulbright “a justly deserved award.”

“Will has been one of the strongest German students we have ever had at Lawrence,” said Peterson. “He spent six months in Berlin interviewing members of the young people’s branch of a party that was founded by members of the old Socialist Unity Party after the fall of the Berlin Wall. His research was financed by a grant that is usually reserved for graduate students working on a Ph.D. That grant and resultant research was instrumental in the completion of his Senior Capstone Project.”

Gill is looking forward to his return trip to Germany, this time to a yet-to-be determined destination somewhere in the western state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, a part of the country he has yet to visit. He sees his role as a Fulbright Fellow as one more unique learning experience.

“There’s still so much for me to learn, said Gill, a fourth-generation Lawrentian and the 10th member of his family to attend Lawrence. “But I have an advantage because I don’t have to make it over the first hurdle. As a Fulbright recipient, I feel like I’m in a position to focus less on myself and more on other people. I can relate comfortably to people in Germany, culturally, linguistically and personally because I’ve spent so much time there.”

“Will has been one of the strongest German students we have ever had at Lawrence. [The Fulbright is] a justly deserved award.”
— Brent Peterson, professor of German

As for post-Fulbright life, Gill says graduate school is a possibility, but he is open to different opportunities.

“I love film, but I also love writing and a lot of other things,” he said. “Until there’s a program that really fits with my interests, I’m not going back to school yet. I think opportunities present themselves in weird ways sometimes. You’ve got to be open and have that flexibility to follow that thing if it presents itself. That’s how some of the coolest things I’ve ever done happen to me.”

Elena Hudacek
Elena Hudacek ’18

The National University of Colombia in Bogota will be Hudacek’s Fulbright assignment, where she will co-teach undergraduate English classes and lead conversation circles.

“I was lucky enough to study abroad in Spain last year and knew that I wanted to teach in a Spanish-speaking country after graduation,” said Hudacek, whose lone previous encounter with South America was a trip to Peru. “Having studied in Europe during my term abroad, I decided I wanted to live in Latin America and experience a different side of Hispanic culture. I chose Colombia because it’s known for having clear Spanish and friendly people. I also liked that I was guaranteed placement in a university, since that’s the teaching context I was most interested in. Plus, I’m just obsessed with Colombian music.”

With her academic background in linguistics and Spanish, Hudacek says her Fulbright experience can serve as a good test run of sorts for future career considerations.

“Elena brings insight, enthusiasm and skills honed through years of exceptional work with Spanish and Waseda students at Lawrence to English language learners in Bogota. I have no doubt that Elena and her students will be transformed by this incredible experience.”
—  Madera Allan, associate professor of Spanish

“I’ve worked a lot at Lawrence with international students as a mentor and a tutor, and I’ve really enjoyed that role,” said Hudacek, who first began studying Spanish in third grade. “It allows me to use my linguistics knowledge in a very practical way. I’m hoping that through this experience I can see whether or not I have a future teaching English Language Learners at the university level. Even if I decide it’s not the best fit for me, I will still gain leadership experience, become more independent, and further develop my Spanish skills.”

Beyond teaching, Fulbright fellows are unofficial goodwill ambassadors for the United States, a role Hudacek embraces. Her time in Europe exposed the many misconceptions people have of the United States.

“At Lawrence, I’ve spent a lot of time with international students, especially those that are part of the Waseda program. Part of my role as a Waseda mentor is being a U.S.-Wisconsin-Lawrence ambassador to those students. I’ve had some experience navigating U.S. culture with people from a different background than mine, discussing culturally-sensitive and sometimes controversial topics. I feel pretty comfortable in that role. I want to paint a picture of the United States that is diverse and complex, one that moves beyond stereotypes and generalizations.”

“Elena brings insight, enthusiasm and skills honed through years of exceptional work with Spanish and Waseda students at Lawrence to English language learners in Bogota,” said Madera Allan, associate professor of Spanish and Hudacek’s academic advisor. “I have no doubt that Elena and her students will be transformed by this incredible experience.”

Graduate school is in Hudacek’s future, but her immediate plans after her Fulbright ends are to teach English in Japan “for some experience in a different setting.”

“I recognize that a level of English proficiency is necessary for a lot of people,” she said. “It allows them educational and professional opportunities they might not have otherwise.”

The Fulbright Program is designed to build relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries that are needed to solve global challenges. Celebrating the 72nd anniversary of its establishment in 1946, the program operates in more than 160 countries worldwide. Fulbright recipients are among more than 50,000 individuals participating in U.S. Department of State exchange programs each year.

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 student entrepreneurs take top prize at $50,000 The Pitch competition for second straight year

Two for two!

For the second year in a row, a team of Lawrence University budding entrepreneurs wowed the judges to earn first-place honors in the second annual northeast Wisconsin The Pitch competition held April 11 at Fox Cities Stadium.

the winning members of team WellBell holding their first-place check
Lawrence University students (left to right) Ayomide Akinyosoye, Nikki Payne, Alfiza Urmanova and Alejandra Alarcon were all smiles after winning The Pitch competition and the first-place prize of $10,000 in cash and $15,000 in in-kind professional startup assistance. (Photo by Max Hermans)

While a trio of Lawrence hockey players won the inaugural Pitch event in 2017, it was the ladies turn to shine in the spotlight this time.

A team of four international students — Ayomide Akinyosoye, Lagos, Nigeria, Alejandra Alarcon, Quito, Ecuador, Nikki Payne, Bangkok, Thailand, and Alfiza Urmanova, Arsk, Russia — overcame a technological hiccup to win the first-place prize of $10,000 in cash and $15,000 in in-kind professional startup assistance.

Despite a computer glitch that prevented their visuals from being shown during their presentation, the four junior economics majors didn’t miss a beat in confidently touting the importance and benefits of their idea, WellBell, an innovative wristband device with an S.O.S button that can be used to send notifications for help or medical assistance. The team sees potential markets for WellBell in health areas as well for social emergencies, such as sexual assaults or shootings.

“I just knew we were going to win,” said an ebullient Alarcon.

Payne was a bit less confident, but equally happy.

Memmbers of team WellBell giving their pitch presentation
Photo by Max Hermans

“What?!? Are you serious?” Payne said was her initial reaction. “I was really surprised. There were great teams out there and we saw some great products they came up with. I thought, ‘I don’t know, I don’t think we’re going to win’ and then when they called our name it was like, ‘okay…guys we did it.’”

Urmanova is credited with conceiving the idea for WellBell this past January. She says the next step is to create a prototype.

“This prize money will help us with beta testing,” explained Urmanova. “Once we test the product, we’ll be able to launch it. For now, we need to see if the market is ready for it. This is something that hasn’t been done before, but it’s very simple and not too complicated. We have a plan on how we want to manufacture it, so within two, three years, it’s possible it will be on the market.”

Modeled after the television show “Shark Tank,” The Pitch featured 10 teams of student entrepreneurs presenting their business idea to a panel of judges and a room full of business leaders and mentors. Each presenter is given five minutes to pitch their product or idea and then answer questions from the judges.

The competition featured two teams each from St. Norbert and Ripon colleges, UW-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh as well as Lawrence, the only competing institution without a business program.

“I was really proud of the young ladies. Their power point didn’t work and yet they gave one heck of a presentation,” said Gary Vaughan, coordinator of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program at Lawrence University. “Women and entrepreneurship go together. There’s no reason why we can’t have more women pitching at events like this. For Lawrence to do this two years in a row against the quality of the other schools we have, it’s awesome.”

“It’s not just the (innovation and entrepreneurship) program, but the whole university and how we prepare our young people, how they present themselves, the confidence they show on stage.”
— Gary Vaughan

Vaughan says Lawrence’s success in the first two Pitch events transcends just the university’s innovation and entrepreneurship program.

“It’s not just the program, but the whole university and how we prepare our young people, how they present themselves, the confidence they show on stage,” said Vaughan.

“It’s the liberal arts foundation they have that we’re building from. The I & E program kind of complements all the other majors on campus. That’s one of our competitive advantages. We’re fining-tuning all the other majors in the way we’re teaching our students how to think entrepreneurially. That entrepreneurial mindset adds value to all of the majors at Lawrence.”

As for the prospects of WellBell, Vaughan thinks it has a future.

“It’s simple and it’s a contemporary solution to some of our challenges in society today,” said Vaughan. “With the prize money they have and the in-kind support, they’ll be able to do a prototype that will work. What we’re talking about with WellBell is your loved one’s security.”

Akinyosoye says Lawrence’s second straight winning Pitch speaks volumes about the importance of having innovative minds.

“It pushes you beyond the boundaries of the classroom and pushes your mind to explore things you didn’t think were possible,” said Akinyosoye. “Coming up with this (WellBell) was just a conversation in a room a few months ago and today it’s possible that it’s going to be a product in the future. The sky is just the beginning.”

“The future is female,” Alarcon added proudly, “and the future is now.”

Brian Minorer making his pitch presentation
Lawrence junior Brian Mironer made a presentation for “Guido,” his innovative way to teach music using a specialized glove and novel curriculum. Photo by Max Hermans

Brian Mironer, a junior from Edina, Minn., who won the on-campus LaunchLU pitch competition April 7, also represented Lawrence at The Pitch. During his presentation on “Guido,” his innovative way to teach music using a specialized glove and novel curriculum, Mironer had the judging panel singing “Do-Ra-Mi.”

Dayne Rusch from UW-Oshkosh was awarded $17,000 in cash and in-kind support as the second-place finisher for “Pyxsee,” an app that allows parents to monitor or limit their children’s time on social media. Sam Hunt of UW-Green Bay was award third place and $10,000 in cash and in-kind support for PrecisionLAG, a device attached to the grip end of a golf club to help the golfer make proper contact with the ball.

The Pitch competition features the best entrepreneurial ideas from college students in northeast Wisconsin, each of whom qualified through preliminary on-campus pitch competitions at their respective institutions.

The winners were chosen by a panel of five judges representing Nicolet Bank, Gulfsteam Aerospace, gener8tor, a startup accelerator, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause and Winnebago Seed Fund.

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 $50,000 contest

“We’ve got a target on our back.”

That’s how Gary Vaughan, coordinator of Lawrence University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program and lecturer of economics, handicapped the second annual The Pitch competition, which begins at 1 p.m. Wednesday April 11 at Fox Cities Stadium. That’s because the Lawrence team of 2017 graduates Ryan Eardley, Felix Henriksson and Mattias Soederqvist won the inaugural competition with their idea for Tracr, a forensic accounting software product. They claimed the first-place prize of $10,000 in cash and an additional $15,000 in professional services.

Three Lawrence students presenting their idea at the 2017 The Pitch competition
Lawrence students Mattias Soederqvist (left), Ryan Eardley and Felix Henriksson presented the winning pitch at last year’s inaugural The Pitch competition from among eight presenters.

The stakes are even higher this year, with a total of $50,000 in prize money and professional startup assistance on the line, up from $40,000 last year.

Budding entrepreneurs from Lawrence, Ripon College, St. Norbert, UW-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh will present their ideas Wednesday, April 11 to a panel of judges in front of an audience of area students, community members, business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors at the Fox Cities Stadium beginning at 1 p.m.

Representing Lawrence will be Brian Mirone, a junior from Edina, Minn., and Alejandra Alarcon, a junior from Quito, Ecuador, Nikki Payne, a junior from Bangkok, Thailand and Alfiza Urmanova, a junior from Arsk, Russia.

Mirone was the first-place winner of Lawrence’s own on-campus pitch contest held April 7 and received the winning prize of $3,000 cash and in-kind services from Lawrence alumni for “Guido,” his innovative way to teach music using a specialized glove and innovative curriculum. The three-member, all-female team of Alarcon, Payne and Alfiza Urmanova, earned second-place honors for their creation “WellBell,” an innovative wristband device used for emergencies and wellness alerts.

“It’s different pitching on campus than it is pitching at the Timber Rattlers Stadium,” said Vaughan, who noted both teams will be working with Lawrence alumni mentors Greg Linnemanstons and Irene Strohbeen as well as community volunteers David Calle and Brad Cebulski to fine-tune their pitch before the big event.

“On campus, we have three judges and maybe 20 or 30 people in the room. For The Pitch competition, you have the Timber Rattlers stadium as the backdrop, you’ve got five or more judges and you have maybe 200 people sitting in front of you. It’s a whole different experience pitching in front of that number of people. That’s part of the variable our students have to overcome if they want to be the champs this year.”

Many of the comments Vaughan heard at last year’s The Pitch competition were complimentary on how “professional” the Lawrence students were and how they really knew how to pitch the judges in their presentations, which Vaughan credits to the entire I & E program.

“In almost every course in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the students are getting up in front of their peers, in front of other people and they’re pitching,” said Vaughan. “We’ve got a good program here and everybody knows it outside of the university. Our students know they’re going to have to up their game.

“We were probably the best kept secret up until last year,” Vaughan added. “Now, the secret is out and the pressure is on us because everyone will be gunning for us. That’s okay, I’m good with that. Our students will step up to the challenge and see what happens.”

Judging this year’s The Pitch competition will be Mike Daniels, representatives from Nicolet National Bank, gBETA Northeast Wisconsin, Winnebago Seed Fund, Gulf Stream Aerospace and Baker-Tilly.

Lawrence’s brush with Hollywood set to hit the big screen

For J.R. Vanko, it was “the chance of a lifetime to be a part of something incredible.”

The “it” was a genuine feature-length, professional film shot on the Lawrence University campus where he was a student.

Group photo of the band Bucky and the SquirrelsVanko was one of numerous Lawrence students who seized the opportunity to get involved with the filming of the movie “Bucky and the Squirrels” when the production team brought its cameras and actors to campus.

Written and directed by award-winning Hollywood veteran Allan Katz, “Bucky and the Squirrels” is a mockumentary about a one-hit wonder rock band from Appleton that vanished in a plane crash in the Swiss Alps. Fifty years later, the aircraft is discovered with the Squirrels still inside — frozen alive. The film includes cameo appearances by Jason Alexander (“Seinfeld”), Mike Farrell (“M*A*S*H”), Richard Lewis (“Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Raquel Castro (“Empire”).

Bucky” (Rated PG, 83 minutes) begins a 45-screen theatrical run Friday, Jan. 26 beginning in the Midwest and spreading west. A national digital/DVD release will follow later in the spring. It will be shown in Appleton at both the Valley Grand Cinema and Hollywood Cinema. Beyond Appleton, the film will be shown at Wisconsin theatres in Delafield, Green Bay, Madison, Menomonee Falls, Milwaukee, Oshkosh and Sheboygan.

J.R. Vanko and Allan Katz
J.R. Vanko ’13 worked with writer/director Allan Katz as the production designer on the movie “Bucky and the Squirrels.”

Katz and Jill Lover, a 1993 Lawrence graduate and professional actor who plays therapist Dr. Adams in the film, will be in Appleton for the Saturday (1/27) evening screening at the Valley Grand Cinema as part of a Lawrence special event.

A theatre major at Lawrence, Vanko served as the production designer for the film, overseeing set design and all of the artistic design elements of the film.

Documentary filmmaker and 1972 Lawrence graduate Catherine Tatge, who was serving as an artist-in-residence at the time helping to get Lawrence’s new film studies program established, had seen Vanko’s theatre work and thought his skills could translate perfectly for the film industry. She encouraged him to consider applying for the production designer position.

“I jumped at the opportunity to try something new,” said Vanko, a 2013 Lawrence graduate. “The opportunity allowed me the experience of working with professionals in the film industry and challenging myself as an artist. The chance to design for a film that had the potential to be distributed nationally was the chance of a lifetime to be a part of something incredible.”

Vanko was working as an apprentice at the American Theater Company in Chicago when Katz called him in June 2013. He recalls the conversation fondly.

“Allan said, ‘Hi Jonathan, I want you to be the production designer for my new film. Do you have a team?’ I will always remember that call as one that changed my life. This film allowed me to challenge myself as a designer in a professional setting, taking what I had learned in my theatre program and apply it to a film setting.”

The film was produced by Lawrence graduates Tom Hurvis ’60 and his late wife, Julie Esch Hurvis ’61, long-time associates of Katz. The decision to shoot much of the film on the Lawrence campus and around Appleton was to enable Lawrence students to get involved in the production.

J.R. Vanko and Jill Lover
Jill Lover ’93, who portrayed therapist Dr. Adams, shares a light moment on the set of “Bucky and the Squirrels” with J.R. Vanko ’13, who was the film’s production designer.

“Bucky and the Squirrels” provided Lawrence students with the unique opportunity to work hands-on with a large-scale Hollywood film production,” said Amy Ongiri, Jill Beck Director of Film Studies and associate professor of film studies at Lawrence. “Our film studies students already participate in a wide variety of film-related internships off campus while they are in the program, but to have a Hollywood film produced right here in the Fox Valley enabled them to see every aspect of film production up close. This was an invaluable experience for everyone involved.”

Vanko credits his experience with the “Bucky” production for paying dividends in his post-Lawrence life and he remains grateful for the opportunity.

“Many of the skills I learned as a production designer for the film have come into play when building community relationships in my current position,” said Vanko, the director of community engagement at Lifezone 360, a sports/fitness/events programming facility in West Dundee, Ill.

“This film provided an opportunity for so many Lawrence students and alumni and truly set the stage for the tone of our film studies department,” Vanko added. “There are so many higher educational institutions out there today but there are none quite like Lawrence. When I look back on my experiences there and my time on this film, all I can think of is how thankful I am I had four years of transformative opportunities and experiences that changed the way I not only saw the world but the way I saw myself as a professional.”

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.

“Word origins for $1,200”: Senior Allison Holley represents Lawrence on “Jeopardy!” college tournament

History isn’t Allison Holley’s go-to category when it comes to playing her favorite game, the popular television quiz program “Jeopardy!.” But thanks to the show, she recently managed to make history.

The senior English and Spanish major from Racine recently became the first Lawrence University student to compete in the annual “Jeopardy!” college tournament’s 29-year history.

A photo of Lawrence University student Allison Holley with Jeopardy host Alex Trebek.
Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Holley was one of only 15 students nationally selected for this year’s tournament. She traveled to California in early January to tape the contest, which will be broadcast over the upcoming two weeks (Feb. 13-24.). Holley’s first game is scheduled to air on Thursday, Feb. 16.

How did she do? You will have to tune in to find out. (Locally, WLUK-TV Fox 11, 6 p.m.)

“I was feeling pretty good,” Holley said of her arrival at the studio for the taping. “I was actually able to sleep the night before, unlike a few days before when my mind was racing 500 miles per hour and all I could think was ‘I’m going to be on Jeopardy!.’”

She was matched against two male contestants, one from Lehigh University and the other from New York University. Holley was the only contestant representing a school in Wisconsin.

Watching/playing “Jeopardy!” has been a part of Holley’s daily routine since she was nine years old. She competed with her mom whenever she was home and when she wasn’t, her parents would tape the program for marathon viewings when she was. Her parents correctly predicted it was only a matter of time before she would give the show a shot.

“I had kind of toyed with the idea but never really looked in to it until I was watching the college tournament last year,” said Holley, who practiced for her appearance by watching the show standing up and using a click ball point pen as a buzzer. “I realized $100,000 (the first-place prize) would do a lot for graduate school and my future.”

Holley’s multiple-step journey to the “Jeopardy!” studio in Culver City, Calif., started last September with a 50-question online test — with 15 seconds to answer each question. A minimum of 35 correct is necessary to advance. Based on answers she found posted on Twitter several days later, Holley estimated she got at least 40 right.

In mid-October, the second leg of her trip showed up in her inbox on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of a laundry session.

“I was checking email,” said Holley, “when I saw a message: ‘We would like you to come to audition in Chicago. RSVP within 24 hours for more details.’

The Chicago audition was set for Nov. 12, Saturday of ninth week, aka academic crunch time in Lawrence’s 10-week term calendar.

“It was kind of insane,” Holley recalled with a smile. “The election had happened that previous Tuesday. I was trying to finish writing a Spanish paper that Friday night in my room back home. I had to wake up early the next morning to catch the train to downtown Chicago. Somehow we made it all work and it was really awesome.”

A photo of Lawrence University student Allison Holley and her competitors from 14 colleges with Jeopardy host Alex Trebek.
Lawrence senior Allison Holley was one of 15 students nationally selected to compete in this year’s “Jeopardy!” college tournament. Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

A Michigan Avenue hotel conference room served as a stand-in “Jeopardy!” studio. A second written test was administered — skeptical producers want contestants to prove they are as smart as their earlier online test suggested minus any “over-the-shoulder” help they may have employed. In groups of three, the contestants were called in to play a short mock version of the game, including a self-introduction.

“I was in the very first position and wasn’t sure what exactly to say, so I just went through my name and school and what I want to do,” said Holley of her audition. “We also had to say what we would do with the money, but you weren’t allowed to say things like pay off student debt or use it for grad school, which is what I would do. I just talked about traveling. I had gone to London and really loved it.”

After watching some of the rest of her competition in their auditions, Holley headed for home with the uncertain news from the producers that those who made it would hear from the show before the holidays.

“The best part of the whole experience was just being out there. All of the people, all the contestants that I met were really nice, cool people.”
— Allison Holley ’17

“It was one long and hectic day, but just getting that far was awesome,” said Holley.

Back home, what she thought was a wrong number in early December turned out to be the call of a lifetime.

“I noticed someone had left a voicemail but I didn’t recognize the number, so I figured someone was just asking for the wrong person,” said Holley, who was in a grocery store at the time. “I listened to it and had to stop dead in the aisle. The message said ‘Hi! This is Ryan from Jeopardy. I have your application.’ I definitely was not expecting that. I started jumping up and down and an elderly woman looked at me kind of weird. I was smiling like an idiot I was so happy.”

Accompanied by her mother, Holley flew to California, where she got to spend a day hanging out in the new Harry Potter world at Universal Studios before getting down to business the following day.

Prior to the taping, Holley got the celebrity green room treatment, including make-up and promotional photographs, along with a primer on the rules of the game and basic strategy. Held in front of a studio audience of a little more than 100, the contestants were admonished not to eyeball any family or friends in the crowd.

“The contestants’ guests sit in a special area, so there is no potential for cheating,” Holley explained. “The producer was yelling, ‘You don’t know your friends and family. Don’t look at them!’

By appearing in the college tournament, Holley forfeits her eligibility to appear on the regular “Jeopardy!” program. But being able to still check “Jeopardy! contestant” off of her bucket list is a memory she’ll never forget.

“The best part of the whole experience was just being out there,” said Holley, a member of Lawrence’s Quiz Bowl team and this year’s champion on-campus trivia contest team. “All of the people, all the contestants that I met were really nice, cool people. They had a reception for all the production staff and the contestants involved in the tournament afterwards, which was really neat.”

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’s Great Midwest Trivia Contest offers 52nd test of cerebral fitness

 It seems a no brainer that Ridley Tankersley would eventually hold the exalted title of Trivia Headmaster of Lawrence University’s ultimate test of cerebral fitness.

A photo of Lawrence University Trivia Headmaster Ridley Tankersley.
Senior Ridley Tankersley will oversee the 52nd edition of Lawrence’s Great Midwest Trivia Contest.

Heck, he almost was named a trivia master before he was even a Lawrence student.

As 2017’s Trivia Headmaster, Tankersley, a senior studio art major from Phoenix, Ariz., will oversee 50 straight hours of outrageous competition all in the name of fun during the 52nd edition of Lawrence University’s Great Midwest Trivia Contest.

Older than the Super Bowl and liberally sprinkled with questions that make explaining the Higgs Boson look easy, the Lawrence trivia contest is the nation’s longest-running salute to all things obscure.

The contest returns in all its inconsequential glory Friday, Jan. 27 at its customary 10:00.37 p.m. start time and runs until midnight Sunday. The contest, just as it has for the past 11 years, will be webcast worldwide from the control room of wlfmradio.

Nearly 400 questions will be asked over the course of the contest, with hundreds, if not thousands of trivia addicts playing for on-campus and off-campus teams, calling in answers to the WLFM studios. Last year, 86 teams battled it out for the off-campus title, which was won by Hobgoblins of Little Minds, a team based in North Carolina. Among on-campus combatants, David and the Bucky’s Batallion Diabolically Antagonizing Tortured Brood-Makers, Basically Building Batteries, Bungee Jumping Blindfolded, Bizarrely Bludgeoning Bells and Definitely Ascending toward Brilliance By Dastardly Battling Together outlasted 18 challengers for its second straight title.

Tankersley, who went from playing as a freshman to serving as a trivia master the past two contests, tried to pull a fast one in 2012. As a visiting prospective student, Tankersley conspired with a current student to apply as a trivia master.

“We thought it would be funny if we both auditioned to be trivia masters,” said Tankersley, who was a member of the winning on-campus team his freshman year. “I pretended to be a Lawrence student. My visit roommate gave me a fake Lawrence ID number and his room number. I went through the whole process, including an interview. I heard I came close to being picked. I think people were quite surprised when they realized I was back in Arizona finishing high school.”

As he gets ready to settle in to the big chair for the weekend, Tankersley hopes to remind players of the contest’s credo: Trivia is meant to be entertainment and should be perceived solely in that light.

“I’ve seen the focus put on competitiveness, not the enjoyment of playing and I want to see it go back to that,” said Tankersley, who figures he’ll only manage to sneak in eight hours of sleep during the course of the 50-hour contest. “I want it to be on the front of everyone’s mind that people are playing because it’s fun and trivia masters are doing what they do because it’s fun.”

A photo of Lawrence University headmaster dressing up as a Joker, surrounded by trivia masters holding up large playing cards.
A “deck full” of trivia masters will assist headmaster Ridley Tankersley (center) during this year’s 50-hour Great Midwest Trivia contest.

While technology has perhaps eroded some of the contest’s original, simple charm, its core spirit — a weird, yet at the same time weirdly logical experience —  remains untarnished.

“You’re in a room with waxing and waning numbers of other teammates, but you’re all there doing the same thing,” said Tankersley, whose dad played as the one-man team “Square Root of All Evil” from Arizona last year. “People take it seriously and it’s inspiring that they do, finding the fun in this weird thing.

“It’s really all about the community of playing,” he added. “It’s about spending time with your friends on the weekend, and maybe coming out of it with a bad prize. It’s all about the experience.”

 Appleton native Kim Stahl knows all about trivia’s “community of playing.” She began playing the trivia contest when she was in elementary school and started a team in sixth grade. Today, she and her best friend Heidi Delorey are co-ring leaders of a team that numbers around four dozen multiple-generation players from as many as 10 states who annually converge on her home — in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Stahl, who has approximately 35 years of notches in her trivia belt, and her merry band of “Hobgoblins,” have benefited from the contest’s switch from an over-the-air broadcast to its current webcast, allowing her to maintain a beloved, decades-old tradition.

“We just love playing. We love the contest. It’s a lot of fun and it makes for a wonderful reunion,” said Stahl, a 1991 graduate of Appleton West High School. “And we love the fact that all of these Lawrence students have kept it going all these years. It’s such a unique college tradition.”

Despite her long history with the contest, Stahl first cued the DJ to play “We are the Champions” in 2015, the contest’s 50th anniversary. They successfully defended their title last year and now are gunning for a coveted “threepeat.”

“We are firmly intending to hit the hat trick this year,” said Stahl, whose own personal trivia tradition involves filling her front yard with pink flamingos the weekend of the contest.  “After never expecting to win for the first 30-some years, that would be a crowning jewel.”

Following trivia tradition, Lawrence President Mark Burstein, will start the fun by asking the contest’s first question, which, also by tradition, is always the final — and virtually unanswerable 100-point “Super Garruda” — from the previous year’s contest.

For one of the few times in the contest’s history, last year’s Super Garruda was correctly answered by the Trivia Pirates…Aaarrrggh. They somehow managed to come up Earwigs Rule to the question: In 1964, a band pretended to play Beatles songs at a battle of the bands called the Letterman Show. What is written in the top right corner of the page that features the band in a KWSS DJ’s copy of the lead singer’s 1965 high school yearbook?

Here are a few “softballs” to help everyone get warmed up for this year’s contest.

  1. In 1988, students at the University College in Dublin broke a record by debating, for 503 hours and 45 minutes, what statement?
  2. At this toy themed amusement park in San Diego, what guards the entrance to the ride immediately south of the easternmost green roller coaster?
  1. The leader of a one-man comedy synth punk band also has a website dedicated to images of a certain household object. What is BigJerk’s lamp thinking?

(1. “Every Dog Should Have Its Day” 2. A 16-foot tall LEGO pharaoh  3. “I hate the zoo.”)

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.