Category: Students

Great Midwest Trivia Contest carries on amid daunting obstacles, new rules

The trivia masters, led by Head Master Grace Krueger ’21 (center), will present the Great Midwest Trivia Contest Jan. 29-31 despite the many challenges of the pandemic.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The desire for trivia won’t be doused by a global pandemic.

It might look different. It might feel different. But the Great Midwest Trivia Contest will kick off its 56th annual edition on schedule Friday night, its team of trivia masters balancing a love of tradition with the realities of pandemic protocols that have forced a reimagining of the beloved weekend.

The passion and creativity of Lawrence University’s trivia weekend remains, even if some of the contest’s staples—the WLFM studio, the on-campus phone bank, the shared spaces of sleep-deprived participants—will not be in play.

The contest is being streamed on Twitch beginning at 37 seconds past 10 p.m. Friday and will continue until midnight Sunday. The action questions, a popular slice of the weekend, will continue but virtually—think variations of digital art—and answers through the weekend will be received in a mix of phone calls and a virtual phone line on a Discord server, all facilitated by 11 trivia masters scattered near and far.

“We’re nervous but excited to be trying new things this year,” said Head Master Grace Krueger ’21, charged with bringing all this together amid challenges unseen in the contest’s first five and a half decades.

Grace Krueger ’21

“I’ve been challenged to maintain 55 years of tradition without access to most of the tools we use to make it happen.”

Much of the weekend will be recognizable, keeping to traditions that have carried forth since the contest was first broadcast on WLFM in 1966—more than 300 rapid-fire and obscure questions over the course of 50 hours; teams organized to seek out answers via digital sleuthing or ingenious snooping; the awarding of weird and mostly useless prizes; the Super Garuda, the impossible finale question that returns as the first question of the following year’s contest.

But other elements have to change due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Trivia masters cannot be huddled together. Teams can’t physically gather as they once would, on or off campus. The campus radio station is off limits.

“We are entirely virtual this year, which means I’ve been challenged to maintain 55 years of tradition without access to most of the tools we use to make it happen,” Krueger said.

But there’s a will to make it work despite the obstacles, and in the process of finding new avenues, some pluses have surfaced. For one, the ability to interact in the moment will be greater.

“Our Discord server allows me to answer questions as soon as I see them, and it gives teams an avenue to connect with each other,” Krueger said. “And we’re excited about the inter-activeness of the Twitch chat because trivia masters on air will be able to read the chat and interact with players directly.”

Trivia players should make a Twitch account if they want to participate in the chat during the contest and a Discord account if they want to be connected with the trivia masters throughout the contest. No account is needed, however, for players who just want to view the stream.

Krueger, a theatre arts major from Branson, Missouri, called the adherence to tradition wherever possible a high priority as she and her team have pulled together the contest over the past few months. Once it became apparent that we’d still be deep in the throes of the pandemic when late January rolled around, it was time to explore what was and was not doable.

“It’s very difficult to balance the needs of the contest with this year’s restrictions, and, in some cases, we have had to make changes to trivia that go against tradition,” Krueger said. “Our main focus is making sure the contest happens this year and that it can be a positive experience for everyone.”

Bringing trivia weekend to life has always been a lot of work. Doing so amid the pandemic, with nearly half of the student body studying remotely and safety protocols forcing most interactions to be virtual, has added to the strain.

“Since the trivia masters and I meet virtually, it’s been hard to build the same sense of community because there are few opportunities to simply hang out and get to know each other,” Krueger said. “Additionally, all of us are under more pressure than usual because of current events. I’ve had several trivia masters drop out of the contest for personal reasons, which puts the pressure on the rest of us even more. However, we’re still super excited about the contest and we hope that everyone will be able to see all the hard work we’ve put into making it happen this year.”

Krueger’s team of trivia masters include Ellie Ensing ’21, El Horner ’21, Cristy Sada ’21, Mikayla Frank-Martin ’22, Riley Newton ’22, Riley Seib ’22, Caroline Rosch ’21, Mary Grace Wagner ’21, Nick Mayerson ’22, and Finn Witt ’22.

Krueger said she’s already heard from a number of long-standing players who have said they’ll play this year even if they can’t get together in person. Others, she said, will surely opt out. The contest typically draws upwards of 100 teams, but hitting that number might be difficult this year.

Tim ’10 and Molly Phelan ’10, die-hard trivia players since their Lawrence days, say they’ll be playing from their Chicago home. They know they’ll need to roll with the changes.

“While our team is often just the two of us, we usually have friends who come by and play on our team for a few hours throughout the weekend, but obviously this year that won’t be the case,” Molly said. “But we’ve had remote players on our team before and usually we just ask other players to text the group the second they get an answer and then everyone on the team tries to call it in, and the second someone picks up, everyone else hangs up to prevent jamming. In a lot of ways this contest will be the same for us as it has been in previous years—just two old alumni, hanging around our house glued to a computer.”

That, Krueger said, is the attitude she hopes other teams will take. She knows they’ll lose some teams, but she remains hopeful many of the veteran teams will still jump in.

“On one hand, a lot of teams who usually gather together for trivia weekend will be playing at a distance for the first time, and I’m not sure that’s a sacrifice they’ll be willing to make,” Krueger said. “On the other hand, the new virtual setup for the contest makes trivia much more discoverable to people on the internet, so we may see some growth in new players this year, especially since there are fewer activities happening generally due to the pandemic.”

Molly Phelan said she’s throwing nothing but love and support to this year’s trivia masters. A former trivia master herself, she has a pretty good idea of what they’re up against.

“As a small team, we come for the chaos, the search, and the comedy,” she said. “I’m a first-year choir teacher in an all-remote district, so I have nothing but respect when new technology works out, and nothing but understanding and sympathy when it implodes.” 

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

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New application deadline adds flexibility for students dealing with pandemic

Lawrence University (photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University is adding a new admissions deadline to lessen the pressure on prospective students who are dealing with unprecedented obstacles as they navigate college applications during a pandemic.

Lawrence’s traditional application deadline has already passed. But the school has added Feb. 16 as a new deadline for students who need the added flexibility due to complications in getting their first-semester grades, receiving letters of recommendation in a timely matter, accessing needed technology, or dealing with a myriad of other pandemic-related frustrations.

Three Lawrence professors part of video series for high school AP students: Read more here.

It’s an effort to be flexible toward student needs at a time when pressures are immense.

“We’re hearing from seniors in high school who need more time to complete their applications,” said Dean of Admissions Mary Beth Petrie. “They continue to experience extraordinary disruptions to their education, and we want to do what we can to provide a pathway to college.”

Students applying to Lawrence by the Feb. 16 deadline are still expected to get answers on their applications by April 1.

Petrie reports that applications for admission are currently keeping pace with previous years.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Kiese Laymon, author of “Heavy,” to deliver Convocation address Jan. 28

Kiese Laymon

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Kiese Laymon, the author of Heavy, a much-praised memoir that served as a recent community read across the Lawrence University campus, will deliver the school’s Winter Term Convocation address on Jan. 28.

His writing has been lauded for its richness in detail, its emotional complexity, and its honesty as Laymon lays bare his experiences growing up and making a life for himself as a Black man in America. He feels the forces of racism suffocating him while he navigates complex and often confounding family relationships and issues tied to abuse, body image, and addictive behavior.

Set for 11:15 a.m., the Convocation will be virtual due to the ongoing pandemic. Laymon’s recorded speech, The Radical Possibility and Democratic Necessity of Navel Gazing, will be followed by an interview hosted by Amy Ongiri, the Jill Beck Director of Film Studies and associate professor of film studies, and students Tania Sosa ’24 and Edwin Martinez ’24. That will be followed by an audience Q&A with Laymon, moderated by President Mark Burstein.

Laymon, a professor of English and creative writing at the University of Mississippi, recently released a new essay collection, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, an expanded and reworked version of an essay collection first released in 2013. It adds six essays and edits others from the initial release.

National Public Radio praised the new release, saying Laymon “takes on the messiness, richness, violence, and diversity of the South in his work, as well as the complex question of what it means to be Black and from Mississippi.” Jerald Walker of the New York Times called Laymon’s retooling of the essay collection a worthwhile undertaking “because by adding six rich new essays, deftly curating seven from the original book, and reworking the chronology, you have made a once solid collection superb.”

It was the release of Heavy in 2018 that first brought Laymon widespread acclaim. The memoir earned a bevy of literary honors, including winning the Christopher Isherwood Prize and being named a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and the Chautauqua Prize. Written as a communication to his mother, the book rips open and digs deep into layers of family pain, abuse, success, wisdom, passion, addiction, and fear, much of it grounded in his love-hate relationship with Jackson, Mississippi, where he grew up, fled, and eventually returned.

Lawrence faculty, students, staff, and alumni joined together for a recent community read. Many then explored the complexities of Heavy in a virtual book discussion held on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Music at the Convocation will include Genius Child, performed by Preston Parker ’23 and Mandy Kung, and Set Me as a Seal, performed by the Lawrence University Concert Choir with members of the Appleton East High School Easterners, under the direction of Associate Professor of Music Stephen Sieck. The link for the Jan. 28 Convocation can be found here.

The live webcast will be accessible to the public, but a recording of the event will not be made public.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu.

“What are we going to do about it?”: An MLK Day call to fight structural injustices

Dr. Bettina L. Love

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Embrace a radical imagination.

Take the fight against structural racism beyond well-meaning committees and studies.

Don’t just speak out against crowded prisons and low-performing schools; commit to the work to end the conditions that result in crowded prisons and low-performing schools.

That is the hard message behind Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream, said Dr. Bettina L. Love, the keynote speaker Monday at the 30th annual Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, co-hosted by African Heritage Inc. and the Lawrence University Diversity and Intercultural Center.

“What structural changes are you willing to make?” said Love, author of We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom and an endowed professor at the University of Georgia. “You got all the reports, you got all the directors of initiatives and all this, and you know racism is in the system, and you know racism is stopping children from living and seeing their full potential, so what structural change are we going to make? Are we just going to keep having policies? Are we going to keep reporting out that the very places we work are racist? What are we going to do about it?”

The MLK Day Celebration is typically held in Lawrence’s Memorial Chapel, but the community event moved online this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Brittany Bell, assistant dean of students and director of the Diversity and Intercultural Center at Lawrence and co-chair of the Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee, helped take the event virtual.

“This is a time for us to come together in unity,” Bell said. “Let us remember Dr. King’s legacy. Together we can be the light that illuminates the darkness in our world and our communities and make a difference.”

At Lawrence, with no classes being held, the event followed a series of MLK Day virtual conversations, including a book talk focused on Heavy: An American Memoir, the powerful and emotional 2018 book by Kiese Laymon, discussions on anti-racist strategies and disability advocacy, and a Music for All concert. The sessions were organized and led by campus volunteers through the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change.

The evening event took the King remembrances beyond campus, with community-focused messages of fighting the very injustices that King gave his life for while also embracing and celebrating Black joy.

The pandemic, Love said, has only exacerbated and magnified the deeply ingrained racism in this country. As did the killing of George Floyd. As did the marches of white supremacists.

“To be a person of color in this country today is a state of exhaustion,” Love said. “To always be trying to figure out ways we can survive this place. I know the Creator did not put me here to survive, to merely survive. I was put here to thrive. So that’s why I wrote the book. We want to do more than survive. That is not living. Living in a world where you are constantly in survival mode is what’s killing us more than anything — white supremacy that puts us in a place where we are constantly just trying to make it, spiritually, physically, mentally, economically. We deserve more.”

Love reminded the audience that at the time of his death in 1968, King was focused on the ills of poverty. He was fighting for workers’ rights, living wages, affordable housing, and economic opportunities for all. He was waging a battle on behalf of the poor that has yet to come to fruition.

“Before Dr. King died, he was building one of the world’s most robust coalitions of poor folks, black folks, white folks, Asian folks, Latino folks, you name it, he was building a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-generational coalition … to think very deeply about how we make sure people living in the United States had a guaranteed income, a living wage, housing,” Love said. “That was what he was on at the end of his life.”

Continuing that fight is what being an Abolitionist is all about, said Love, who titled her talk, Abolitionist Life: Resistance, Creativity, Hip Hop Civics Ed, Intersectionality, & Black Joy.

“More than anything, King understood this,” she said. “The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical distribution of political and economic power. That was his dream. We cannot sanitize it; we cannot water down King’s dream. His dream was to abolish poverty. His dream was to unite black folks and white folks and Latinx folks and indigenous folks, and everybody to create a world that understood if you want racial justice you better want economic justice. And we’re talking about a redistribution of wealth.

“King was about the abolishment of poverty. He was not trying to just give people a dollar here, a dollar there. He was trying to create structure that would ensure that nobody went hungry ever again. That is what abolition is about. It’s not about reform or reimagining. It’s about uprooting oppression.”

Love encouraged all to join that fight, to take it beyond good thoughts and supportive words.

“We do this work not wanting allies but wanting co-conspirators,” she said. “What have you done? What’s your work? That’s what a co-conspirator does. Put something on the line.”

To get there is a journey. Embrace that journey. Have a “radical imagination” and celebrate who you are, Love said.

“We have to do this work with joy,” she said. “We have to want to see Black folks win. It has to be more than just anger. There’s righteous rage, don’t get me wrong. But we also have to find the Black joy in this world. The work that says I want to be well, I want to work to be well.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

30th annual MLK Celebration to go virtual; series of conversations planned

Bettina L. Love (left) and Griot B.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The 30th annual Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, co-hosted by African Heritage Inc. and the Lawrence University Diversity and Intercultural Center, will be held virtually on Jan. 18.

Typically held in Lawrence’s Memorial Chapel on the evening of MLK Day, the community event is moving online this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Those who would like to attend the virtual event will need to register in advance here. It’s set for 6 to 7:45 p.m.

“This upcoming MLK Day, it will be 30 years the Fox Cities has come together to honor Dr. King’s legacy and the dedication to racial equality,” said Dr. Brittany Bell, assistant dean of students and director of the Diversity and Intercultural Center at Lawrence and co-chair of the Fox Cities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee. “Although the pandemic has changed how we celebrate this year, let us continue to come together in unity. The unrest in our nation has shown us we have lots of work to do.”

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Bettina L. Love, delivering the address, Abolitionist Life: Resistance, Creativity, Hip Hop Civics Ed, Intersectionality, & Black Joy.

Love, an award-winning author and the Athletic Association Endowed Professor at the University of Georgia, will discuss how intersectionality and Abolitionist teaching “creates a space where Black lives matter and sensibilities are nurtured to engage communities in the work of fighting for visibility, inclusion, and justice.” Her talk will end by calling on people to engage in critical dialogues about racial violence, oppression, and how to make sustainable change in our communities. She will challenge the audience to “envision a world built on Black joy, creativity, imagination, boldness, ingenuity, and the rebellious spirit and methods of Abolitionists.”

Music will be performed by Griot B, delivering Agitate: A Story Through Song.

There is no youth essay contest this year due to challenges posed by the pandemic. A book giveaway sponsored by Memorial Presbyterian Church in Appleton and the City of Appleton’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion will be announced as part of the event.

At Lawrence, the event will be preceded with a series of online educational opportunities focused on antiracism, hosted by the Center for Community Engagement. No classes will be held on the day, and students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to partake in the virtual presentations and discussions. The events include:

10 to 11 a.m.: A virtual book discussion will be held featuring Kiese Laymon’s Heavy: An American Memoir, a book selected as a community read for Lawrence. The discussion comes in advance of the Jan. 28 virtual convocation featuring Laymon. Find more information here.

1 to 2:30 p.m.: A disability policy and advocacy event is planned. Alexandra Chand ’21 and the Disability Working Group will lead a session about advocacy and lobbying for disability rights-related legislation. Participants will learn how to call and write to elected officials and examine pieces of relevant legislation at the state and federal level. A follow-up event will be planned. Find more information here.

2:45 to 4 p.m.: An antiracist solutions and strategies workshop will be hosted by Kye Harris ’21. The workshop will address the history of leadership, movements, and protests, and explore action plans for individuals, collectives, and institutions to combat discrimination in all forms. Find more information here.

4 to 5:10 p.m.: Music for All: MLK Concert is planned. Hosted by Jacob Dikelsky and Music for All, the virtual concert will highlight music of BIPOC composers. Find more information here.

All of the Lawrence events require advance registration. You can find more information here.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

2020 in focus: Photographer shares 10 favorite Lawrence images of the year

By Danny Damiani / Communications

At the end of a year that included more than 1,000 edited photos taken in and around the Lawrence University campus, I was tasked with selecting my top 10 images of 2020. Narrowing this rather unusual year down to 10 photos was a difficult task, but below you will find my favorites, along with notes on how and why. A huge thank you to all the students, faculty, and staff who allow me to step into their world both digitally and in person to make all of my photos happen.

1. Aerial Landscape, the Wellness Center, and Sampson House reflected just before sundown on Aug. 6. One of my goals this year was to try to show campus in new ways. I spent many hours this summer looking for different angles to reflect this beautiful campus. It wasn’t until I spotted a portion of Aerial Landscape reflected in nearby glass that I stopped and worked the angle of the reflection to get this result.

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2. Students dance during the Feb. 1 President’s Ball in Warch Campus Center. Thinking back to winter term, a favorite memory is the smiling faces at the President’s Ball. Covering the event was a bit of a technical challenge because of the low light, but like many assignments, it’s all about waiting in the right place for the right moment.

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3. Ryan Erdmann ’22 wears a mask while taking part in a Chamber Music class in City Park on Oct. 7. Mask-wearing quickly became a vital aspect of 2020, so I always kept an eye out for students who were using their masks to show off a little of their personality. It took nearly the entire class before I was able to get the light to fall in just the right spot for this photo.

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4. Kelvin Maestre ’21, a Makerspace assistant, watches as a laser cutter starts its work on a piece of wood on Jan. 22 in the Seeley G. Mudd Library. Having the chance to document the interesting work that students do is a highlight of my job. That often goes hand in hand with our 2 Minutes With series of student features. I knew the Makerspace would have lots of interesting light sources, so I went in looking to take an image that utilized one of them.

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5. Ghania Imran ’21 poses for a May 22 portrait in her Chicago home via Zoom. Speaking of our 2 Minutes With series, many of the photos I take for those stories are portraits. Spring Term brought new challenges for taking portraits of students. For this photo, I decided to try a portrait through Zoom. It involved lighting the laptop with two separate lights, help from Ghania to find a good spot in her home, and finally positioning the laptop for the right angle.

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6. Sonja Klusman plays the piano with Matt Turner, instructor of music, during an Applied Musicianship II class on Feb. 17 in Shattuck Hall. I always take into account the amount of time that’s available to me when I get to an assignment. Do I need to get a photo within five minutes or, in the case of this image, do I have the time to really explore different angles?

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7. Nicholas Jatta ’21 kicks a soccer ball with friends Oct. 6 on the Quad. During Fall Term, I spent a good deal of time looking to document what students were up to in this Honor the Pledge environment. Finding Nicholas kicking the soccer ball with friends was a pleasant surprise. Not only was the afternoon light falling beautifully on the Quad, but it had been a long time since I had the chance to photograph anything related to sports.

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8. The moon rises above Main Hall on Jan. 7. This image came together as I was nearing the end of a workday. While walking to Brokaw Hall from the Warch Campus Center, I noticed the moon was bright, and close enough the cupola to capture a photo.

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9. Nathan Graff ’22 and Daniel Johnson ’23 rehearse outdoors with the Jazz Ensemble on Oct. 7. After taking photos of an outdoor music class in City Park (see earlier entry), I decided to edit the images on Main Hall Green. Not long into my edit I heard the sounds of brass behind me. After getting a few images of the Jazz Ensemble students as they practiced, I noticed the shadows against the white chapel, so I reset myself and took this photo.

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10. Sophia Driessen ’22 transplants leafy greens while working on a hydroponics research project on Dec. 10 in the Briggs Hall greenhouse. This was the first time I took photos in the greenhouse. The purples and greens are what pull this image together for me.

Danny Damiani is a multimedia specialist in the Communications office. Email: daniel.t.damiani@lawrence.edu

December research projects expand across disciplines for faculty, students

Sophia Driessen ’22 transplants leafy greens from their sponge starters to new soil growth media while working Dec. 10 on a hydroponics research project in the Briggs Hall greenhouse at Lawrence University. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

While much of the Lawrence University campus has been quiet since Fall Term ended, there has been a bustle of activity happening in and around academic research projects.

In Briggs Hall, you can find Sophia Driessen ’21, Erin Szablewski ’21, and Catherine Wagoner ’22 working daily with Relena Ribbons, assistant professor of geosciences, on new hydroponics research. With work both in the lab and in Briggs’ small greenhouse, the students are getting a chance to do hands-on research that both boosts their resumes for graduate school and gives them insights into possible career paths.

“This work is valuable to me because it allows me to strengthen my independent learning and working skills,” Szablewski said. “Additionally, it is helping me to learn and grow in the research process, helping me in my graduate school application process. I was drawn to it because of its hands-on, interdisciplinary nature.”

They’re not alone. In all, 26 Lawrence University students—15 on campus and 11 remote—are working during December with 18 faculty members on research in disciplines stretching across campus. Each student applied for and received a $1,200 stipend for three weeks of work between the Fall and Winter terms.

“This is the third year for December research, but with a significant innovation,” said Peter Blitstein, associate dean of the faculty and associate professor of history. “For the first time, we are using internal funds to support projects in the social sciences, humanities, and fine arts, in addition to using funds from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation grant for work in the natural sciences.”

The December program began in 2018 with funding from Sherman Fairchild for physics, biology, chemistry, geosciences, and neuroscience research. This year, faculty in economics, the Conservatory of Music, English, mathematics, religious studies, and Mudd Library are participating.

The University is investing more than $37,000 in the expanded program, covering the students’ stipends as well as room and board for those on campus.

“This is the greatest number of students we have supported for December research in the three years we have had this program,” Blitstein said.

Elizabeth Becker, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, and Elsa Hammerdahl ’22 are collaborating with a St. Joseph’s University graduate student in researching mating habits of the monogamous California mouse. This species is notable because it’s believed that fewer than 5% of mammals are exclusive, an affinity known in animal behavior research as “pair-bond,” Becker said.

“While in some species, these pair-bonds are thought to form within 24 hours of cohabitation, other studies indicate that this process may take up to a week,” she said. 

This project continues research that Becker started at St. Joseph’s, the Pennsylvania school where she taught and led the Behavioral Neuroscience Program before joining the Lawrence faculty earlier this year.

“By manipulating the cohabitation period and then measuring a range of affiliative and aggressive behaviors in partners, we aim to establish an accurate timeline and create a formal operationalization for pair-bond formation in this species that can be used in future studies,” Becker said.

Ribbons and her three students, meanwhile, are doing hydroponics research that is supported by the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) and the Lawrence University Research Fellows (LURF) program.

“The chief aim is to test out and pilot this new experimental setup with an eye toward future experiments to examine microbial communities that grow in the soil growth media,” Ribbons said of the research. “Students have been experimenting with what types of plants we will grow, starting within the leafy greens category to test out Swiss chard, Russian kale, and buttercrunch lettuce. Currently we are growing about 300 baby leafy greens in three replicates of the hydroponics manifolds.”

Wagoner, a geoscience and environmental studies major, said the work ties in nicely with her interests and career ambitions.

“As an avid science and nature enthusiast, I was naturally drawn to this research project,” she said. “These past few weeks have offered unparalleled experiences and knowledge that might be difficult to obtain in a typical classroom setting.”

An added bonus, she said, is working alongside other women with a shared passion for science.

“Aside from the inherent educational value of our project, it feels very empowering to be working and learning alongside three other women in a field largely dominated by men,” Wagoner said.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Note regarding WSGC: 1) this material is based upon work supported by NASA under Award No. RIP20_11.0 issued through Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, and 2) any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

His students applaud as John Holiday finishes inspired run on “The Voice”

John Holiday sings Where Do We Go during Monday’s finals of NBC’s The Voice. (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University voice professor John Holiday finished his wild ride on NBC’s The Voice Tuesday night, placing fifth in the 19th season of the popular TV singing competition.

Holiday, an associate professor in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music since 2017, showcased a voice that John Legend called “otherworldly” as he advanced through the blind auditions, the battle rounds, the knockouts, the live playoffs, and the live semifinals, where TV viewers cast votes to move him into the Final 5.

On Tuesday’s finale, he was joined on stage by Legend to sing Bridge Over Troubled Water, his final performance during an inspired run.

“It’s been an incredible dream I could never have imagined,” Holiday said of his time on the show.

But the title for Holiday wasn’t to be. Carter Rubin, a 15-year-old coached by Gwen Stefani, was named the winner, based on viewer votes following Monday night’s live finals performances, earning a recording contract in the process.

Late Tuesday, Holiday tweeted: “America, I love you so much! I appreciate every prayer that helped me and my #TheVoice family soar. Congratulations, @carterjrubin! The world is ready for your fierce talents and beautiful spirit. #HoliBaes forever! I love you and I am excited to be on this ride with you.”

Holiday excelled in a competition that began in the spring with thousands of hopefuls and drew an average TV viewership of more than 7 million people during twice-weekly airings over the past two months. The show was conducted without its usual live audience and with social distancing protocols in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Get to know Lawrence’s John Holiday here.

Follow along with the John Holiday Tracker here.

Flashing a fun sartorial style to match a vocal talent that has made him a rising star in opera circles, the 35-year-old Holiday drew plenty of applause along the way, earning attention in the Los Angeles Times and USA TODAY, hearing effusive praise from the show’s celebrity coaches—Legend, Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, and Blake Shelton—and growing a fan base he calls his Holibaes.

Holiday’s voice students at Lawrence, who affectionately call him Prof, cheered him every step of the way, including through tonight’s finale.

“From day one, Prof has told us that one of the main reasons he pursues his career is to show us what’s possible,” said David Womack ’21, a senior voice student from Austin, Texas. “Watching him quickly become a household name is direct proof that we can do anything we set our minds to, as he frequently reminds us.”

John Holiday sings Halo during the live finals of The Voice. (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC)

In Monday night’s live finals, Holiday delivered Beyonce’s Halo as his cover song and the Justin Tranter-produced Where Do We Go as his original.

“I love that you continue to show America more of yourself,” Legend told him. “You put your heart out there every single week. You have an out-of-this-world gift.”

Staying genuine

Holiday jumped into the competition after the pandemic shut down his performance schedule in the spring. He continued to teach remotely while quietly taking part in the auditions and the early rounds of the show from Los Angeles. The recorded segments—launched with Holiday delivering a stunning performance of Misty that quickly drew Legend to his corner in the blind auditions—began airing in mid-October. Holiday was sworn to secrecy as he advanced through each round as part of Team Legend. He returned to L.A. as the live rounds and viewer voting began two weeks ago.

Sarah Navy ’22, a junior voice student from Holiday’s hometown region of Houston, Texas, said she and her Lawrence classmates already appreciated Holiday’s immense talents. Seeing other viewers discovering not only that talent but also his joyful heart was part of the fun.

“Even though I have spent so much time with him and have heard him sing so much, sometimes I go back to the first time I met him and I become that girl in tears who knew one day she could be great, too,” Navy said. “He is such a genuine person who works so hard and is being a representative for so many people.”

That genuineness shined through all levels of the show, whether Holiday was talking to Legend or host Carson Daly about his teaching at Lawrence, being Black and gay, singing opera, his incredibly high falsetto, growing up in his beloved Texas, his relationship with the grandmother he calls Big Momma, and the pain being felt by artists around the world in the midst of the pandemic.

“He is always so authentic to who he is, which is so inspiring to see,” said Jack Murphy ’21, a senior choral student from Neenah. “And just witnessing the outpouring of love for him. Not only for his talent, but what he stands for as well. It’s encouraging and wonderful. I am so immensely proud of him, and so is our entire studio.”

During his run on The Voice, Holiday became the student under the coaching guidance of Legend. In Monday’s episode, he thanked his mentor for instilling in him confidence that he could shed labels and transcend musical boundaries.

The Voice has been a place that has helped me to stretch myself far beyond what I thought was possible for me,” Holiday said. “Having John as one of my biggest supporters, his belief in me means the world. … I spent so much of my life hiding, and I won’t ever hide again. He’s given me permission to fly.”

Lawrence pride

While NBC billed Holiday as a native of Rosenberg, Texas, his home the past three years has been in Appleton. He represented Lawrence well throughout the season, speaking not only to the power of music education but also to the need for musicians to live and perform authentically and with empathy, resiliency, and flexibility.

“We couldn’t be prouder of John Holiday and his incredible journey on The Voice,” said Brian Pertl, dean of the Conservatory. “John is the perfect example of the flexible, versatile, virtuoso musician that the 21st century needs and Lawrence strives to produce. He is an opera star who can sing jazz and pop at the highest levels. He is a top-tier performer and a top-tier educator who values his students above all else. What an incredible role model for our students and musicians around the globe.”

With The Voice now finished, Holiday will prepare for Winter Term at Lawrence while getting at least a bit of his performance schedule back. Opera Philadelphia announced last week that Holiday will take the lead in Tyshawn Sorey’s Save the Boys in February, to be streamed on the Opera Philadelphia Channel.

Hannah Jones ’22, a junior voice student from Houston, will be among the Conservatory students excited to welcome their professor home, even if it has to be via Zoom for a bit longer.

“Prof always tells us, ‘I want to show you that it is possible,’” Jones said. “Well, he was doing that well before The Voice, but this is another level. Words cannot describe my excitement for Prof’s success.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Most-viewed Lawrence stories of 2020: Bright lights in midst of a daunting year

The President’s Handshake, a tradition of Welcome Week, was reimagined at the outset of Fall Term, one of many adjustments made to keep campus safe during the pandemic. President Mark Burstein met each incoming student and presented them with a luminary to be displayed. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

It’s been a different sort of year. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly altered life on the Lawrence campus.

But one thing proved true. Lawrentians (and future Lawrentians and friends of Lawrence) are hungry to read about Lawrence and their fellow Lawrentians. We’ve dived into the analytics to share today the most viewed stories of 2020 on the Lawrence news site. (A few of the stories that placed in the top 20 are partnered here because they are so closely related.)

Eight alumni, eight stories: See 2020 edition here.

From voice professor John Holiday’s success on NBC’s The Voice to Lawrence again being hailed as a world-class school to adjustments made to campus life in the midst of a pandemic, there was no shortage of Lawrence news that drew a lot of interest. We provide here links to those most popular stories. Check out what you missed or take another look at stories that remind us of what makes Lawrence shine.

1. John Holiday hits big on NBC’s The Voice.

“There are people who dare to dream bigger than themselves; they never stop learning, never stop growing. I wanted to show my students what that looked like.” See stories here and here.

2. Princeton Review names Lawrence one of nation’s Best Impact schools.

“I see it and hear it when I meet with our alumni around the world. They point back to their time at Lawrence as unlocking something for them, discovering an interest or talent they didn’t know they had until they started working with professors here who helped guide them in that discovery.” See story here.

3. We say farewell to beloved Lawrentians.

“I will always remember Lifongo as the warmest, kindest, and most generous, joyful, and magnanimous of colleagues and friends.” … “I know many Lawrentians join me in remembering moments when Terry’s advice provided exactly what you needed to hear to be the best version of yourself.” See stories here and here.

4. Campus life changes amid COVID-19 pandemic.

“All of us living, learning, and working on campus this fall need to understand and to honor the responsibilities outlined by the Pledge.” See stories here and here.

5. A professor’s guide offers look at Freshman Studies.

“The entire list shows a remarkable range and an admirable ambition.” See story here.

6. New trestle trail adds to trails, parks near campus.

“The abandoned railroad trestle has been transformed into a 10-foot-wide trail that spans the Fox River at the southern edge of campus.” See story here.

7. Bidding good-bye for now to retiring faculty.

“You have served as a steadying force, stepping into a host of academic leadership positions that have lent stability in moments of uncertainty and grace in times of worry.” See story here.

8. Six faculty earn tenure.

“I’m absolutely delighted that their contributions are being recognized through the awarding of tenure and promotion, and look forward to continuing together our rich, rewarding work for years to come.” See story here.

 9. Jake Woodford ’13 elected mayor of Appleton.

“It has been a pleasure to watch Jake’s energy turn toward the city he loves.” See story here.

10. Princeton Review names Lawrence to Best Colleges list.

“As we head into another academic year, albeit one that looks different from any other in history, it’s reassuring to see that some things have remained the same.” See story here.

11. President Mark Burstein announces plans to leave Lawrence.

“During Mark’s tenure, our curricular offerings became deeper and broader, applications and the endowment increased dramatically, and our community became more diverse, inclusive, and equity-minded.” See story here.

12. Lawrence offers assistance during pandemic.

“We have always risen to the challenges that face us with resilience and ingenuity.” See story here.

13. Conservatory named ‘hidden gem,’ adapts to life in pandemic.

“It’s beautiful, creative flexibility. We’re working with our students all the time to say, ‘This is what you’re going to need out there in the world, and this is what’s going to be exciting about being a musician in the world today.’” See story here.

14. Natasha Tretheway named 2020 Commencement speaker.

“Our journeys have been intertwined since I visited Lawrence four years ago, and I am delighted and honored to be able to reconnect with this class in such a meaningful way.” See story here.

15. Spencer Tweedy ’19 enjoys Kimmel appearance, Instagram show.

“One of the really, really cool things about my time at Lawrence was that the boundary between the Conservatory and the college is pretty permeable.” See story here.

16. Lawrence adds major in Creative Writing, minor in Statistics and Data Science.

“We’ve seen more prospective students articulating their desire to focus directly on creative writing.” … “Data scientists are working with bioinformatics, genetics; it’s huge in economics, and it’s become a huge thing in political science.” See story here.

17. Four alumni added to Board of Trustees.

“At this critical moment for higher education, I couldn’t be more appreciative for the diverse group of individuals who are giving so much of their time and talent as trustees to ensure that the college continues to distinguish and differentiate itself.” See story here.

18. Alexander Gym court gets a redesign.

“While resurfacing was certainly a maintenance requirement, the fresh new design work is an added bonus.” See story here.

19. Our 2020 Alumni Awards are announced.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down the annual Reunion celebration, this year’s recipients are still being celebrated for their contributions to both the Lawrence community and the world.” See story here.

20. Alex Damisch ’16 cherishes her Jeopardy experience.

“After I taped the shows, I thought to myself, ‘Man, it went by so fast, and I was always so focused on my next move, I hope I remembered to smile.’ Spoiler alert: I did not.” See story here.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Can we talk? Student writers share their in-person, remote Fall Term experiences

Awa Badiane ’21 (left) and Isabella Mariani ’21

Like other Lawrence students, Awa Badiane ’21 and Isabella Mariani ’21 are navigating Fall Term amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Awa is doing so on campus in Appleton. Isabella is doing so remotely, having spent part of the term accessing classes while working on an organic farm in Hawaii before returning home to Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, in early November. The two Communications Fellows talked to each other about their respective student experiences.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21 and Isabella Mariani ’21

Isabella: Hey, Awa, I’ve been seeing friends posting on social media about life on campus right now. How’s that going for you? 

Awa: Hey, Isabella! I can truthfully say it’s not like any other year I’ve had here at Lawrence, but I’m glad I can be closer to my friends. What’s it been like taking classes remotely? 

Isabella: The first thing that comes to mind is how hard it is to stay motivated. One of the biggest roadblocks to remote learning, I think, is losing motivation. There’s no right or wrong way to motivate yourself; it comes down to what works for you as an individual.  

Awa: I hear that. I remember during Spring Term when most students were off campus and all my classes were online. I would be up until about 6 a.m. trying to read before class because that was the only time motivation struck. Maybe it was something about watching the sunrise after spending all night on TikTok that gave me the real push I needed. 

Isabella: I love that. Maybe it comes down to dedicating that period of time when you put yourself in an academic mindset.  

Awa: How about staying organized? Have you been able to do that?

Isabella: This is another big one for me. I’ve found myself losing track of dates and deadlines when taking classes. That’s pretty natural, since no one else is around to hold me accountable for making it to class or turning things in on time. Honestly, writing in my planner every day is really the only thing keeping me on track with school. It might surprise you how much making lists can boost your confidence and productivity. 

 Awa: I still find myself losing track of dates and deadlines, even on campus. I’m glad you have found a way that works for you in keeping track of assignments as they are coming up. Having two in-person classes and my third class being synchronous on Zoom has definitely helped. I am able to create a schedule around my classes.  

Isabella: Yeah, I guess it’s comforting to know people struggle with this on campus, too. You’re lucky to have those class times that you can work around. Being on the farm or at home, it’s also been helpful to have a space where I keep all my school stuff. Just to create a “class space” where everything is kept in order. 

Awa: Have you felt connected to campus when you are so far away?

Isabella: Connecting to people and resources on campus definitely feels harder being remote. While Lawrence has lots of connective resources on campus, it’s easy to feel distant from that when you are at home. I just remind myself that I’m only an email away from the CAS staff, and you also can schedule Wellness Center telehealth appointments for counseling or health issues if you’re not on campus. And staying in touch with professors has been really helpful. 

Awa: I hope you’re not having FOMO about life on campus! It’s still pretty hard to see people here. We all want to stay safe, so seeing friends you don’t live with has been a challenge. 

Isabella: I do sometimes get FOMO seeing some of my friends posting on Instagram from campus. But as you say, it might be more painful if I was there and couldn’t spend time around them if they weren’t in my pod. Are you still in regular contact with your professors? Does being on campus make that different for you? 

Awa: I would say getting to see my professors in person is one of the biggest benefits from being on campus. I have two classes in person, so I get to ask any question I may have there, rather than waiting for an email.  

Isabella: How about developing a routine? That’s been another big one for me. It’s been one of the hardest things. Remote learning is full of distractions, and it can feel impossible for me to make time to get things done. At home, I’m so distracted by my dogs, and suddenly deciding to rearrange my room. That’s why I think creating your own routine is key when you’re remote. Again, I don’t think there’s a formula you have to follow for this. It’s just about knowing what works for you personally. 

Awa: That’s true. I think the same works for being on campus. Sometimes I get jealous of my friends who only have class online because they don’t have to leave their rooms, but I’ve found little things I can do before class like grabbing lunch to get me excited. And I also remember how I would be up until 6 a.m. when my classes were online and I thank myself for making the best decision for me. Do you think being off campus is working for you? 

Isabella: Ultimately, I think it was the best decision for me. I know plenty of people are making it work on campus right now, but I don’t think I could properly enjoy my time there right now. I’m glad you mentioned using lunch to get yourself ready for class. Building routines around mealtimes is definitely helpful, which reminds me of something I’m really curious about. Do you think your sleeping habits/routines are different on campus? 

Awa: Surprisingly, it has been better. My sleeping schedule during Spring Term in quarantine was all over the place, probably because of all the late-night snacks. But here I know I have to get up and get ready for class, so I try to make sure I get enough sleep to do that.   

Isabella: Finding personal time also is really big for me. When all is said and done, you’re still a person with needs before you’re a student. It’s crucial to find a balance between your academic responsibilities and your personal life, especially when those two become intertwined. Just because you’re not in an academic environment doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a nap on your couch or watch movies. 

Awa: I completely agree with you. Even though two of my classes are in person, I still find myself on Zoom calls quite often. From LUCC meetings, to committee meetings, to meetings with administration, etc., I am on Zoom A LOT. But I have found in between the many Zoom meetings, stepping away from my computer and phone and just going for a walk or curling my hair to be very relaxing. 

Isabella: Wow, I always forget how busy you are. You must actually be an expert at knowing when you need personal time.  

Awa: It’s been great catching up.  

Isabella: This has been interesting because I expected that students on campus wouldn’t be having the same problems as me. I even thought that students on campus were simply having an easier go of things because they’re physically at Lawrence. But that’s not always the case.  

Awa: Yeah, we are living in very interesting times. It’s been an adjustment for all of us. It helps that we are all going through it together.  

Awa Badiane ’21 and Isabella Mariani ’21 are student writers in the Communications office.