Category: Students

Navigating Lawrence’s three 10-week terms: Plan ahead, stay organized, relax

Plan ahead as you make your way through Lawrence’s 10-week terms. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Karina Herrera ’22

One thing I was nervous about while coming into my first year of college was Lawrence’s trimester system. Even though I had experienced a similar academic structure in high school, I knew that college would be different. I was worried about what the workload would be like, how to manage my time, and how to prepare for classes.

So, for any incoming first-year who has those same concerns, or for sophomores who are wondering what to expect from an academic year with fewer COVID restrictions, look no further. I’m a senior now, and I’m happy to share some insights to hopefully help you best traverse the weeks of each term.

What’s a trimester, again?

Lawrence is split into three terms: Fall, Winter and Spring, with students taking three classes per term. They’re all 10 weeks long with midterms held about the midpoint of the term and finals after the last week of classes. Ten weeks will fly by fast, so be ready.

As you start your journey as a Lawrentian, one thing you’ll learn is that both students and professors reference things by weeks. For example: I can’t believe it’s third week already. Students also say it to convey their stress level or indicate their workload. Naturally, the deeper you are in the term, the more work you will have and the more in depth your learning material will be, so some weeks carry more weight than others.

A general guide to how the weeks go are as follows: weeks 1-3 of any term are typically less stressful because everyone is adjusting to their new classes and course materials, including the professors. Weeks 4-6 are a little heavier in the workload because you are past the learning curve of knowing how your classes are structured and what’s expected of you. Midterms are generally held during this time so you’ll find students burying their noses in books or writing papers. Weeks 7-10 make up the final stretch to the term and it’s where students are usually at their busiest. Students will be working on presentations, final projects or papers, and then finals are right around the corner after 10th week.

I’m generalizing, of course, as the rhythms of any term will vary depending on your classes, including for those students in the Conservatory who might have recitals and other performances to account for. But you get the idea. The workload—and accompanying stress—tends to ramp up as the term goes on.

Fear not, this is doable

This might sound like a lot, but don’t panic. As a first-year, I was comforted in knowing that each term you only need to take three classes; a standard class is six units (we use units instead of credits) and in order to be a full-time student, you need 18 units. I always liked bragging to my college friends back home that I only had to take three classes at a time while they had to take five or more.

A chance to de-stress comes with the mid-term Reading Period. It’s essentially a four-day weekend at the end of sixth week, a break built into each term. Traditionally, it was intended for students to use to study for their midterms the following week, but it more often plays out as a needed breather. A lot of professors schedule their midterms before Reading Period, so many students go home during this long weekend; others, like me, will take this opportunity to catch up on sleep, relax, hang out with friends, and generally get refreshed. What I’m saying is, unless you’ve been slacking in your studies, there’s not much reading involved, despite its name.

Advice from someone who has been there

OK, advice time! I have five tips to help you best navigate the 10-week terms. I had to learn these the hard way.

1. Order your books with plenty of time to spare. Like I said, most professors are pretty lenient the first three weeks and understand that mishaps occur with the mail system, but it’s still a little embarrassing not having your books on the first day of class. So I recommend ordering your books at least two weeks before the term starts and sending them to your SPC box at Lawrence; that way they’ll be there when you arrive on campus. There are cheaper purchasing options than buying brand new editions; you can buy used versions, rent your books or see if any upperclassmen will lend or give you theirs.

2. Be organized from the get-go. This means investing in a planner or calendar of some kind and becoming best friends with it. You’ll want to write down your class schedule and times, and once you get your syllabus, write down the due dates of assignments. Being organized also means checking your school email daily. Almost every professor will email you with information about class, whether it’s changing an assignment or extending a due date or maybe canceling class—trust me, you don’t want to show up to a class that’s been cancelled and find out you could’ve slept in.

3. Don’t procrastinate. I know, easier said than done. My rule of thumb is if you can get it done in five minutes, do it now. Make a list of the assignments you have to do for the day or upcoming week and order them from which ones have to get done first, or from easiest to hardest. That way you’re not spending more time on something that’s due in a week versus something that’s due tomorrow. It also helps to set up a study schedule and block out chunks of time that you dedicate to finishing certain assignments.

4. Find your study spot. If you work best inside your room, then great! But sometimes your roommate will need to take a call or maybe they chew loudly and you can’t focus. It’s always good to have a backup or two that you can call your own. A good place to study, of course, is the library because the level of quietness goes up the higher the floor you’re on. Other nice indoor spots to study are the fourth floor of the Warch Campus Center, the Steitz Atrium, the Café or in the large venue rooms on the backside of Warch. When the weather is nice, some outdoor spots would be on the Main Hall Green, the Sage patio, or the tables outside both the library and the Café.

5. Take breaks. Even though these other tips are geared toward helping you with your studies, my last piece of advice would be to not let your work consume you. It’s important to take a breather every now and then. College life is stressful but it’s also a great time to meet new people and try new things. Also, remember to get involved with activities on campus. Each term has its own traditions and events that you don’t want to miss. Always keep an eye on the campus calendar for details.

Karina Herrera ’22 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.

Summer research grows more robust across an array of academic departments

Tyler Scott ’23 adjusts a drone as part of a summer research project at Two Creeks Buried State Forest Natural Area on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Scott and several other students are working this summer with geosciences professor Jeff Clark. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

From mapping bluff erosion along the shores of Lake Michigan to translating theatrical works from French to English, Lawrence University students are diving deep into a wide range of research this summer.

The Lawrence University Summer Research Fellows Program has come roaring back following a year in which summer research was either limited or strictly remote because of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 100 students—most of them on campus but some still remote—are taking part in summer research, funded through Lawrence and its supporting partners and encompassing 17 academic departments across the college and the conservatory, all in collaboration with Lawrence faculty.

Elliott Marsh ’22, an environmental sciences and geosciences double major who is working with a team of students alongside geosciences professor Jeff Clark on the Lake Michigan bluff erosion project, said he loves the hands-on approach to summer research.

“In my case, I am learning a lot about drones, remote sensing, and GIS, which are very good skills to have in the job market these days,” he said. “Also, research is all about problem-solving, and being immersed in trying to answer a handful of questions in 10 weeks is a very different experience.”

Student participation in the summer research program has grown by 50% over the last six years, jumping from 70 students in 2015 to 105 this year. The number of academic departments taking part has grown from 11 to 17.

Through numerous grants, donations, and other funding, more than $350,000 was available for this year’s summer research. Faculty members applied for funding to support their research; students then applied to join faculty projects that interested them.

“Despite the pandemic, summer research at Lawrence continues to grow and flourish—we have more students participating in summer research with more faculty across more programs than ever before,” said Peter Blitstein, associate dean of the faculty.

The natural sciences continue to lead the way, but there is now more consistent participation year in and year out from the arts, humanities, and social sciences. That, combined with greater flexibility in how available stipends are used, has helped increase participation each of the past six years, with the exception of last summer.  

Relena Ribbons, an assistant professor of geosciences who is leading students in climate-based research in SLUG (Sustainable Lawrence University Garden), called the skill-development that comes with hands-on research a valuable piece of life-after-Lawrence preparations. Seeing it return this summer with such enthusiasm has been a welcome sight.

From left: Katie Mahorney ’22, Gillian Buckardt ’22, Relena Ribbons, assistant professor of geosciences, and Ella Lemley-Fry ‘23 work in SLUG as part of a summer research project.

“Summer research fellowships here at Lawrence provide students with the opportunity to fully engage with the entire research process, which is both a valuable stepping stone for connecting more deeply with academic research and a meaningful and enjoyable way to spend the summer months,” Ribbons said.

The work provides students with important insights into graduate school and allows them to explore career possibilities on a deeper level. In the process, it adds skills and experiences to their resumes.

“These experiences are especially valuable in helping students figure out if they might want a career in research, and if so, the work they do over the summer is an important part of their application for graduate school,” said Lori Hilt, associate professor of psychology. “The skills they gain—in data collection and analysis, communication, etc.—will help them in their lives after Lawrence, whether or not they decide to go to graduate school.”


To give you a look at the breadth of the research being done this summer by Lawrence students in collaboration with faculty across the college and conservatory, we’ve pulled together a “by the numbers” guide.

105: Number of students participating in summer research

Blitstein said the growth in the program stems from the diversity and creativity of the research projects and the influx of available funds over the past several years to support the students during the summer.

“I am delighted to see the range of projects our faculty and students are collaborating on this summer,” he said. “From the ceramics studio, to the biology laboratory, to the university archives, Lawrentians are engaged in hands-on learning, developing their skills, and supporting faculty in achieving their scholarly and creative goals.”

53: Total number of research projects under way

The program was renamed the Lawrence University Research Fellows Program in 2017, and with it came a greater emphasis in participation beyond the natural sciences, Blitstein said. That is playing out in a big way this summer.

“Overall, it has become more visible as a university-wide program in recent years,” he said.

46: Number of Lawrence faculty overseeing summer research projects

Hilt has been part of the research program every summer since joining the Lawrence faculty in 2011. She’s working with students this year on multiple projects that touch on mindfulness, rumination, and suicide prevention among school-age children and adolescents.

“I find it to be a rewarding opportunity to mentor students and have them contribute to my scholarship in a meaningful way,” Hilt said. “Many of my summer research students have been co-authors on published papers and have gone on to graduate school and careers in psychology.”

Jeff Clark, professor of geosciences, works with Itai Bojdak-Yates ’23 on research at Two Creeks Buried State Forest Natural Area in east-central Wisconsin. Clark is one of 46 Lawrence faculty members working with students on summer research.

17: Number of academic departments working with students on summer research

The departments involved touch almost every corner of Lawrence. In addition to the natural sciences, participation comes from Anthropology, the Archives, Art & Art History, the Conservatory, Economics, English, Film Studies, French & Francophone Studies, Government, History, Mathematics, Psychology, and Russian, plus outside partnerships with the Associated Colleges of the Midwest.

Midushi Ghimire ’24 is a biochemistry major spending her summer working with Mark Jenike, associate professor of anthropology, on research into the human biology of diabetes. The research is expected to contribute to a new course to be offered in 2022-23.

“The best part is that in order to understand the concepts, I have to sometimes revisit and refresh what I learned during my academic year,” Ghimire said of the work. “I feel that I have a stronger grasp on the topics I learned and am applying them to new areas. I am expanding my knowledge horizon and relating biology through a larger scope.”

50: Number of students taking part in science research (biology, chemistry, geosciences, and physics)

The Lake Michigan shoreline research that Clark is leading is part of an innovative NASA project that gives students the opportunity to conduct earth-observing experiments using remote sensing techniques. It ties in nicely with Lawrence’s newly launched environmental science major.

“We are using drones to map bluff erosion on the bluffs along Lake Michigan near Two Creeks,” Marsh said. “To do this, we are using not only a visual sensor but also a thermal sensor. That area is known for its distinct layers, and the sand layer is the weakest layer where the bluff is most likely to fail. So, with the thermal sensor, we are able to identify how saturated the sand layer is because the different moisture levels in the sand will yield different temperatures than 100 percent dry sand would.”

The students will analyze the collected data and by the end of summer prepare a paper on their findings.

13: Number of students taking part in Conservatory of Music summer research

Projects range from research into Brazilian drumming (with percussion professor Dane Richeson) to preparing arrangements for horn and mixed ensemble for publication (with horn professor Ann Ellsworth).

Claire Chamberlin ’23, a global studies major, is working with Eilene Hoft-March, the Milwaukee-Downer College and College Endowment Association Professor of Liberal Studies and professor of French, in the translating of short theatrical works from French to English. Kathy Privatt, the James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama and associate professor of theater arts, and her theater students will then take some of those short plays to performance during Winter Term.

“I’m translating short contemporary retellings of four plays by Molière—who was essentially the French Shakespeare—from French into English,” Chamberlin said. “It’s valuable because it’s making art accessible to a new audience. All four plays are funny and incisive, and adapting them into English allows more people to enjoy them. For me, it’s a fantastic opportunity because I get to build my literary translation skills while learning more about Francophone cultures and the French language, especially its idiomatic use.”

7: Number of students involved with research that explores foreign languages and/or cultures

Parker Elkins ’22, a Russian Studies major, is one of three students working with Peter Thomas, associate professor of Russian Studies, to build assignments for Lawrence’s first-year Russian curriculum, including both written and video exercises.

“While I’m still unsure whether I intend to pursue higher education after Lawrence and teach Russian, this work is certainly helping me get a better understanding of some of what that job would entail,” Elkins said.

Researching the Russian text and breaking it down for possible use in future courses has not only proved beneficial in providing insight into possible career paths, it’s also helped give direction to a separate project, his senior capstone.

“I can say that for mine—a scholarly retranslation of Venedikt Erofeev’s novel, Moscow to the End of the Line—working on these (texts) has been immensely helpful,” Elkins said. “Erofeev’s prose shares very, very few similarities to these texts, but at the same time there’s been large parts of the process that I’ve been able to take from working on these first-year Russian assignments and apply to retranslating this novel.” 

23: Number of students taking part in psychology research, much of it focused on youth and adolescent mindfulness

John Berg ’22, an English and psychology double major, is working with Hilt in a study of mental health screening and suicide prevention among school-age children and adolescents in the Fox Valley. They’re partnering with community groups as they examine local screening data from the prior school year and look to develop new or improved screening instruments that can better identify students in need of help.

“I personally love doing this work,” Berg said. “I think that it is relevant and has the ability to help students who are at risk of self-harm and/or suicide.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

Hello, Class of 2025: It’s OK to be nervous; we’re all looking for ways to connect

Connecting with others on campus is part of the college journey. After more than a year of pandemic protocols, we may need a little help along the way. We’ve got some advice. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Karina Herrera ’22

For any incoming first-year, starting the journey as a college student can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Throw in a year of mask-wearing, social distancing, and other pandemic protocols and you’ve got a recipe for added anxiety.

As the beginning of the new school year draws closer, you might be unsure of what to expect or worried about making friends. That goes for not only first-years but also for all those sophomores who spent their first year remote. I’m here to help. Here are nine things that helped me meet new people and form lasting friendships when I arrived on campus three years ago.

1Take advantage of Welcome Week: Welcome Week is as it sounds—a time when you and your fellow first-years will move into residence halls and be welcomed to campus. There are a myriad of activities over several days that are specifically designed to help you meet new people and aid you with the transition to college life at Lawrence. Engaging in these activities will provide you with an easy opportunity to start making connections with other first-years before the rest of the student body arrives on campus. You can ask someone from one of these activities to grab a bite to eat in the Warch Campus Center or go for a walk along the river or even tour the education buildings together to figure out where your classes will be held.

2Attend residence hall activities: A fun way to get to know the students in your residence building is to go to the events hosted by your community advisor (we call them CAs). In the dorm’s lobby during their night shifts, they will set up movies, have various game nights, order pizza, and sometimes make pancakes. There is no work involved for you. Just enjoy. All these activities are opportunities to mingle, and the best part is, you don’t even have to leave the building!

Student organizations offer a great way to meet new people. Here, students participate in a hike during Camping 101, an event hosted by the Lawrence University Outdoor Recreation Club in May. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

3Join student orgs: There are more than 100 student-run clubs and organizations on campus, all looking for new members. Click here for the list at Want to learn how to swing dance? Or do you really like improv theatre? Itching to go on a camping trip? There are clubs for all of these interests, but on the slight chance that Lawrence does not already have the club you’re looking for, no worries. You can form your own, and it’s really simple! Here’s a link for a how-to guide; on the page it’ll tell you to review the Student Handbook and then you simply have to fill out a club recognition request form. Joining a student org is a sure way to follow your passions and connect with other Lawrentians. You may even learn new skills along the way.

4Go to sporting events: Even if you are not athletically inclined, you’re in luck—cheering on the Vikings only requires your enthusiasm. Even if you have no idea what’s going on, it’s OK because there is usually someone sitting near you who is in the same boat. Making connections through shared confusion is a fun way to start those friendships while also showing support for the athletes. And as a captain for the women’s basketball team, I can attest to how much we appreciate it when we see the bleachers filled with students cheering us on. Lawrence provides a free shuttle service to take you to and from the athletic facilities, but here’s another tip for forging connections: Skip the shuttle and walk to the Banta Bowl or Alexander Gym. It’ll be quality time with your new friends.  

5Visit the Downtown Appleton Farmer’s Market: This weekly event is a great way to spend a Saturday morning in the fall (or summer if you stay on campus) with a friend. Beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 12:30 p.m., College Avenue from Appleton Street to Drew Street is closed off to vehicle traffic so vendors can sell a variety of goods. You’ll find everything from fresh produce and baked treats to handmade items and artwork—often while listening to live music. So, grab your roommate or a new acquaintance and take a stroll to experience one of Appleton’s summer and fall favorites.

Lawrence students volunteer at Feeding America in January 2020.

6Get out and volunteer: Volunteering is an awesome way for students to connect. Make friends while helping to educate kids, comfort animals, or save the planet. Lawrence’s Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE) works hard to educate students about their role as citizens in their community while also promoting a wide range of volunteer opportunities. The CCE is not the only an avenue for volunteering but it’s a great resource to meet others along the way.

7Go to the movies: Seeing a good movie is always a great option when building new friendships. The campus movie theatre on the second floor of Warch Campus Center features free movies for students every Friday and Saturday night during the school year. You can even fill out an online form to make suggestions for specific movies that you want to see, and there’s free popcorn. It’s a fun way to spend a weekend night and connect with others. Did I mention the free popcorn?

8Embrace the arts: I hope you’re not too attached to your socks, because they will be knocked off while watching a performance in the Conservatory, whether it’s our own students or visiting artists. Attending events in the Con with your new friends is a must. This is one of the true perks of going to Lawrence. We have a world-renowned music conservatory right here on campus. Not many schools get to say that. I’ve enjoyed watching many of my friends perform in various ensembles and have had my ears blessed while listening to music recitals. And there are amazing theatre and dance performances, not to mention opera and other musical feats. Music is quite literally happening all the time on this campus.

The Trout Museum of Art, located adjacent to Houdini Plaza in the heart of downtown Appleton, is a short walk from campus.

9Get outside the Lawrence bubble: There doesn’t need to be a special occasion for you and a fellow newcomer to step off campus and explore Appleton. College Avenue has a comprehensive selection of fun downtown spots, including coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques, art and various crafting stores, and so much more—even I haven’t seen it all and I’ve been here for three years. But it’s not just shops. Check out the various trails and parks within walking distance of campus (the Lawe Street Trestle Trail is my favorite). Also, be on the lookout for student rush tickets for shows at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center (nothing wrong with cheap tix to a touring Broadway show), book a tour of the History Museum at the Castle or visit the Trout Museum of Art, all short walks from campus. These are just some of the great ways to get to know other students who also are new to Appleton.

Bonus tip: Follow Lawrence and Appleton social media pages. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or the Lawrence website, it’s a good idea to stay connected to your new community. Keep tabs on news updates, insights into your fellow students and the Lawrence faculty, and details of coming events on campus or nearby.

Karina Herrera ’22 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.

Chill out: 10 nearby places Lawrentians can cool down with an ice cream treat

A hand hold a cup of chocolate ice cream in front of the Copper Rock store front.

This story was updated on July 2, 2021, with an assist from Karina Herrera ’22

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

What’s better than ice cream on a hot day? Now that summer is at its hottest, I know I will be eating a TON of ice cream to stay cool. But I’m not going to be selfish and keep all the ice cream to myself. I’ve created this list of favorite places close to campus to get a delicious scoop this summer. 

1) Frio Mexican Treats, 131 W. Wisconsin Ave., Appleton 

Frio Mexican Treats is a family-run Mexican ice cream shop. The owner moved to Wisconsin from Mexico 17 years ago, fell in love with Appleton, and decided to open Frio Mexican Treats. This shop has brought delicious, authentic Mexican treats to the area, and we are all grateful for it. 

Favorite frozen treat: I LOVE apple pie, and Frio’s has an Apple Pie-flavored churro sundae! It is made with Mexican vanilla ice cream topped with apple pie filling and two cinnamon sugar churros … is anyone else drooling? 

2) Crazy Sweet, 514 W. College Ave., Appleton 

An ice cream stuffed donut – need I say more? Crazy Sweet is sure to fulfill anyone’s sweet-tooth cravings. It’s comprised of a full candy shop, with more than 300 candy options, attached to an ice cream shop that has 16 rotating flavors of Cedar Crest made here in Wisconsin. If you are in the mood for a float, a pile-high sundae, or just a scoop, Crazy Sweet has you covered. (Note that Crazy Sweet reopened with new owners in its new location last summer; it’s a little longer walk from campus, but still so worth it.)

Favorite Frozen Treat: ICE CREAM. STUFFED. DONUT.   

3) JD’s Drive In, 1939 E. John St., Appleton 

Because it’s located so close to the Banta Bowl and Alexander Gym, JD’s Drive In is a good bet for Lawrentians. It’s known for delicious and cheap burgers that hit the spot after a home game or practice. But did you know it’s also a perfect spot to get a cold treat? JD’s serves up some of the best soft serve that you can get, topped with or dipped in toppings of your choice. JD’s frozen menu also features a heavenly ice cream sandwich and what it calls a Storm, which is a legendary soft serve blended with mix-ins of your choice. 

Favorite frozen treat: Ice cream sandwiches are the way to my heart, and when there are ice cream sandwiches half off every Wednesday, sign me up.   

4) Cold Stone, 420 E. Calumet St., Suite D, Appleton 

Cold Stone is obviously not exclusive to Appleton, but it does hold the crown (in my opinion) for best cold treats. With more than 50 ice cream flavors and toppings to choose from, there is truly no end to the possibilities you can create. They are not limited to just ice cream, also featuring frozen yogurt, sorbet, and ice cream cakes.  

Favorite frozen treat: Dirt is not usually a flavor people would go for, but when the dirt is made of chocolate ice cream and Oreo cookies, well, I think you’ll love eating dirt, too.  

5) Copper Rock, 210 W. College Ave., Appleton 

Copper Rock is a cozy coffee shop located just blocks from campus, known for its globally sourced coffee. Copper Rock also is a great spot to chill out with delicious gelato. It has a case of 12 flavors made in the gelato kitchen right in the store.  

Favorite frozen treat: The Chocolate Cupcake Gelato is unmatched.  

6) Kwik Trip, 730 E. Wisconsin Ave., Appleton 

I know what you’re thinking, “How did Kwik Trip make this list?” In my defense, my first time at a Kwik Trip was in Appleton, as the convenience store chain is a Wisconsin-based enterprise. It was also my first time seeing a gas station with a make-your-own milkshake machine. And might I add, the milkshakes are AMAZING. 

Favorite frozen treat: Cookies and Cream Milkshake is my go-to.  

7) Culver’s, 3631 E. Calumet St., Appleton 

Culver’s is a Wisconsin staple known for its delectable ButterBurger. But this list is about ice cream, so let’s take a moment to appreciate the fresh frozen custard — the chocolate and vanilla flavors are made in the store all day. Despite only making chocolate and vanilla, Culver’s still provides lots of ways for you to make the custard your own, offering a wide selection of mix-ins. Culver’s also has different options for the way you can get your custard served — cone, shake, or in their famous concrete mixer.       

Favorite frozen treat: Salted Carmel Concrete Mixer with Brownie is my favorite.

8) Knotted Cone, food truck. Check the schedule online to see if they’re in town:

The Knotted Cone is a gelato truck that travels throughout the Fox Valley but spends most of its time in Appleton. The business started after the owner spent two months backpacking through Europe. There she fell in love with gelato and decided to return to Italy to study gelato-making. All of Knotted Cones ingredients are either locally sourced or come straight from Italy, so you know you are getting a quality treat.  

Favorite frozen treat: The French Pressed Coffee Cream is delectable.  

9) Twist, N1716 Hyacinth Lane, Greenville  

The Twist Ice Cream Company is not quite in Appleton, but it is in close proximity and its ice cream is way too delicious to have not made the list. Twist is a family-owned business that has been serving scoops of creamy deliciousness since 2011. Twist is only open from April to October, so be sure to stop by while you still can.    

Favorite frozen treat: Brownie Bite Arctic Twist is beyond satisfying. 

10) Doughlicious, 322 W. College Ave, Appleton. The newest entry on our updated list. It’s just a short walk from campus and there’s a colorful sign that draws you in. They have ice cream here, but the main draw is the wide variety of cookie dough, with two flavors always being gluten free and vegan.

Favorite frozen treat: Mix the cookies-and-cream cookie dough with vanilla ice cream and then enjoy my treat on their comfy couches.

Awa Badiane ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

Anxiety over registering for classes? Here are 11 tips from a student who’s been there

Thelma B. Jimenez-Anglada, assistant professor of Spanish, teaches a Spring Term Spanish class. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

Planning your schedule is the first step in setting the tone for the academic year and there’s always plenty of course options for your first year at Lawrence. But registration can be daunting if you’ve never done it before. Don’t worry, though. There are people to help, and once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy, and these 11 tips will help ensure you get off on the right foot.

1. Think about your schedule OUTSIDE of classes. Are you leaving yourself time to stop by Andrew Commons for lunch? Do you plan to have a job that will impact your schedule? Make sure your class times don’t conflict with your life outside of academics.

2. Know yourself and how you learn best. Do you work best early in the morning? Do you want periodic breaks throughout the day or back-to-back classes? And no matter what, don’t forget to consider your sleep schedule.

3. Remember that classes are usually offered multiple times. Especially as a first year, even if a class isn’t offered every term or even every year, you’ll likely have multiple opportunities to take a course if you are trying to choose between two classes offered at the same time.

Tyler Scott ’23 takes notes during a Hot Rocks geology class. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

4. If you really want to take a class that is full, immediately get on the waitlist and reach out to the professor to let them know how excited you are about their course. There might be a bit of wiggle room in class capacity or someone else might drop the class, which will make room for you.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions when you meet with your summer advisor. That’s what your advisor is there for. They know the whole process is new to you, and they want to help you and share their expertise.

6. Trust your instincts. It can be overwhelming to look at the full course catalog and narrow it down to three classes (or two since you take First-Year Studies your first two terms) especially after years of having your schedule basically decided for you. Whatever classes stand out to you are probably going to be the best fit.

Danielle Joyner, assistant professor of art history, works with Maren Stone ’22 and Izzy Thompson ’22 during a Spring Term class in the Wriston Art Center. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

7. But at the same time … remember where you are in your studies. During your first year, you’ll mostly be taking 100- and 200-level courses as you accumulate the knowledge you’ll need to excel in more upper-level classes. That 400-level seminar will still be there when you’re a senior.

8. Try to have a good balance of subjects. Three lab courses or three writing-intensive courses within one term probably isn’t the best idea.

9. If you don’t have the necessary prerequisites for a class you want to take, reach out to the professor to ask if you might qualify in a different way. Sometimes, classes you took in high school or unique experiences you’ve had can be substituted for the pre-req. But remember that those pre-reqs are about making sure you have the background and experience necessary to succeed in the course, so really think about (and maybe check with your advisor) whether the class is a fit for where you are in your academic journey.

10. It’s OK if you don’t know your major yet. Explore a variety of different subjects! Even if you think you know your major, first year is a great time to dip your toe into other interests as you start to figure out your own college path.

11. There are lots of resources to help you. I’ve already talked about your advisor, but there are more people who can help. The Registar’s Office is a great place to ask questions about the ins and outs of registration. And if you need help with anything related to academics, from academic counseling to procedures, the Center for Academic Success is your one-stop shop.

Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.

Favorites from Awa and Isabella: They helped us share the Lawrence experience

Isabella Mariani ’21 (left) and Awa Badiane ’21 had some fun explaining Wisconsin vocabulary in a video they made in the summer of 2019.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

When Lawrence University held its 2021 Commencement on June 13, the Office of Communications bid farewell to two students who worked as student writers for the past two and a half years.

Awa Badiane ’21 and Isabella Mariani ’21 became important parts of our Communications team. They helped develop the 2 Minutes With … series of student profiles, showcasing the interests and passions of their fellow Lawrentians. They wrote dozens of stories and took part in the making of videos for the news pages at, providing student perspectives on living in Appleton and experiencing student life on campus. Their stories added insight to the student journey. They collaborated to compile a list of ways to speak Lawrentian and to share the differences between being on campus and remote during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Awa Badiane ’21
Isabella Mariani ’21

Awa, of New York City, majored in government with a minor in ethnic studies. Isabella, of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, majored in English with a minor in French. Before they walked the stage at Commencement, we asked them to share with us their favorite stories. Here’s what they had to say:

A nod to the French program

Three for three: France teaching assignments a sign of growth for Francophone program

Isabella: With three Lawrence seniors being awarded competitive assistant teaching positions through TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France), it made 2019 a huge year for the French program. As a French minor, it was exciting to do a story on the French Department and a program I’m so familiar with. 

A tasty diversion

Chill out: 9 nearby places Lawrentians can cool down with an ice cream treat

Awa: I think this story speaks for itself! We were looking to showcase a cool (literally) slice of Appleton within walking distance of campus. I remember writing this piece during the summer that Isabella and I stayed on campus. In order to write the story, we HAD to try all of the places mentioned. Right? We had a blast! 

Digging into research

Collaboration keys research into invasive weevils along Lake Michigan shoreline

Isabella: There are so many cool research projects going on with Lawrence students and faculty. This one got me connected with invasive weevils at Whitefish Dunes in Door County through research being led by Assistant Professor of Biology Alyssa Hakes. I love Whitefish Dunes, and I love bugs. 

The draw of summer

Right at home: Discovering the joys of an (almost) endless Appleton summer

Awa: I got to write about all the cool things there are to do in Appleton when you stick around for the summer. The best part of that was making a video at the Appleton Farmers Market, which is held every Saturday in the downtown. The Communications team gave me and student videographer Thuy Tien Tran ’20 a fun assignment. They gave us $20 and told us to spend it on the joys of the farmers market, and to make a video of the experience. As we were walking to the farmers market we ran into two other Lawrence students, Carly and Chris, and asked them to join us. The four of us had a blast making the video.

Wait, is that a chimpanzee skeleton?

Chimpanzee skeleton gets a much-needed makeover in LU student’s study project

Isabella: I had no idea there was a chimp skeleton on campus, so this was fun. It turns out it’s part of a whole lot of cool things in the Anthropology department in Briggs Hall. Talking to Professor Mark Jenike and Claudia Rohr ’19 about their work made me want to study primates!

A matter of distance

These 4 Lawrence faculty members push physical limits with ultramarathons

Awa: Before this story, I had little knowledge the world of ultramarathoning even existed, let alone there are multiple faculty members here at Lawrence who run these absurd distances. I chatted with Relena Del Toro Ribbons, Jason Brozek, Megan Pickett, and Douglas Martin, all of whom had recently competed in ultramarathon races, some in the 31-mile range, others stretching as long as 100 miles. It was so fun talking to these professors about a passion they have outside of the classroom.

Having some fun for Giving Day

Giving Day 2019 and the Viking costume 

Awa: This one is different from the other work I was doing with the Communications office. During Giving Day 2019, I had the honor of hosting three Facebook Lives for the Lawrence Facebook page. These were so much fun to do and really got me in the spirit of Giving Day. I was able to work with President Mark Burstein and the host of that year’s webcast, Terry Moran ’82; we did a speed round interview with students, and I got a behind-the-scenes look at the webcast. Leading up to Giving Day, I was part of the creation of a series of shorts for the Lawrence Instagram page, with Ken Anselment, vice president for enrollment and communications. And, yes, that’s me wearing the Lawrence Viking costume.  

Inspiring work abroad

2 Minutes With … Naomi Torres-Solorio: Exploring climate crisis while at sea

Isabella: The 2 Minutes With … student profile series gave us a chance to feature so many great students and their passions. For me, it’s always crazy to hear where Lawrence students get to go to study abroad. This one was about a student taking part in SEA Semester, which sends students around the globe to spend a portion of an academic term at sea, studying everything from anthropology to marine science. The idea of living on the boat and doing the watch shift in the early hours of the morning still sticks with me. I’m glad I got to tell Naomi’s story.

All about students’ passions

2 Minutes With … Justin Williamson: Galaxies collide in simulation project

Isabella: It was always fun to find students to feature in the 2 Minutes With … series. I heard about Justin’s project because we were in a French class together. It’s cool to hear what someone is working on outside of class, especially work like coding that is so foreign to me. And to see how students are able to utilize Lawrence’s Experiential Learning Funds to further their research and academic interests is inspiring.

Stepping up during a pandemic

2 Minutes With … Daniel Toycen: “Emergency” is in the job description 

Awa: Out of all the great students I was able to interview while writing for the 2 Minutes With … series, this story stands out to me the most. First, I think a college student working as an emergency medical technician in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic is really impressive. Second, this story was turned into a scramble because I lost the interview that I thought I had recorded. That was the first time that happened to me. Daniel was very kind and understanding and agreed to re-do the interview. Don’t we just love remote work? The EMT work is a step toward medical school for Daniel. It was fun to be able to tell that story.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

9 things to know as you prepare for LU’s 2021 Commencement at Banta Bowl

The Banta Bowl will be the site of Lawrence’s 2021 Commencement ceremony on June 13. It begins at 10 a.m.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University will hold a Commencement ceremony on June 13, a celebration of the accomplishments of the Class of 2021.

The 10 a.m. outdoor ceremony moves from its traditional location on Main Hall Green to the Banta Bowl to allow for physical distancing and other COVID-19 protocols.

In a message to seniors, President Mark Burstein praised the students’ commitment to following pandemic protocols, allowing Lawrence to keep the spread of COVID-19 in check and thus be able to hold an in-person Commencement.

“Since your arrival in Appleton, I have had the honor of watching you take full advantage of the Lawrence experience,” Burstein said. “Your successes as Lawrentians are even more meaningful in light of the challenges of this past year.”  

Here are nine things to know (and a couple of bonus notes) about Commencement 2021:

1 We’re back in person: It was a year ago that Commencement had to be moved to a virtual ceremony as the pandemic was in full force and Spring Term classes were fully remote. A year later, with vaccines available and the number of COVID cases across the country in rapid decline, the decision was made to hold an in-person event but move it to the more spacious Banta Bowl and limit attendance. Masks will be required; each graduate will be allowed up to two guests, to be seated in pairs; and social distancing will be maintained.

2 All graduates are welcome: While not all members of the Class of 2021 have been living on campus during the academic year, all have been invited back to participate in the Commencement ceremony. Lawrence is requiring that all students participating in the in-person ceremony be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Nearly 280 seniors are eligible to walk at the ceremony.

3 Getting there: Graduates will be shuttled from campus to the Banta Bowl. For faculty, staff, and guests, a limited amount of parking will be available at the Banta Bowl. Priority will be given to individuals needing accessible parking or other special needs. Look for parking at Mead Pool (across John Street) or on nearby streets. Give yourself time to find parking and to possibly walk a block or two. You can find a parking map here.

4 Watch it live: For those who can’t get into the Banta Bowl or choose not to, the ceremony will be streamed live on Lawrence’s YouTube channel. You can find it here and can access it at any location where Wi-Fi is available. You can use the live chat feature to offer your congratulations during the ceremony (note that you’ll need to log into a Gmail or YouTube account to access the live chat).

President Mark Burstein will preside over his final Commencement.

5 Presidential remarks: Always a big part of Commencement, this year’s address from Burstein will have special significance. This will be his final Commencement as he prepares to leave Lawrence after eight years. The 16th president in Lawrence’s history said he relishes each Commencement he has been a part of since arriving in Appleton.

“It is not only the culmination of the academic year, it is the culmination of students’ progress through Lawrence and the celebration of real accomplishment by faculty,” Burstein said. “So, it’s just a moment where everything comes together, and each Commencement is clear in my mind and an event that I really cherish.”

Jailene Rodriguez ’21, here taking part in an Advanced Painting class earlier this year, was chosen by classmates to be the senior speaker at Commencement.

6 Senior speaker: This year the honor goes to Jailene Rodriguez ’21, an ethnic studies and Spanish double major from New York. She will speak to her class about the journey they’ve been on together and the world that is unfolding in front of them as they take their individual paths.

A standout in the classroom, Rodriguez also has been active in other parts of the Lawrence community. She played on the women’s soccer team, was active in student clubs, has been a manager at the Viking Room, and earned the John Alfieri Tuition Scholarship in Spanish. She’s a member of Posse 11 and plans to return to New York to pursue work in the nonprofit sector.

“I want my class to remember to keep finding ways to learn and grow with any opportunities that open to them,” she said of her message to classmates. “I want them to remember to be as unapologetically themselves as possible.”

Dr. John R. Raymond Sr. will give the 2021 Commencement address.

7 Commencement speaker: Dr. John R. Raymond Sr., president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), will deliver the Commencement address. He emerged as an important voice across Wisconsin during the pandemic, providing guidance on safety protocols and the challenges of keeping the spread of the virus in check. The Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team leaned into Raymond’s advice often as decisions were made about how to proceed on campus.

Raymond said he will speak to the graduates about resiliency and the lessons they can take from the past 15 months.

“The resiliency that students show is an example for the rest of us about how to be flexible when we face challenges, as well as how to persevere through our social networks, through finding our passion for making a difference, and for being innovative under duress,” he said.

8 Faculty honors: Three Lawrence University faculty members will be honored during the ceremony when the annual faculty awards are announced—Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Award for Excellent Teaching by an Early Career Faculty Member, and Award for Excellence in Teaching. A year ago, the award winners were announced in advance of Commencement because of the ceremony having to go virtual. This year the tradition returns, with the awards being revealed as part of Commencement.

9 Faculty retirees: Another Commencement tradition that returns this year is the honoring of faculty who are heading into retirement. Retirees include Terry Gottfried (psychology), Gerald Metalsky (psychology), Alan Parks (mathematics), Jerald Podair (history), and Bruce Pourciau (mathematics). Watch for a coming feature on the news blog at that shines a light on all five retirees.

Main Hall Green is always picturesque.

Bonus: Photos on campus: Following the ceremony, students will be shuttled back to the main campus. Families will be able to meet up with their students at that point to take photos. There are multiple great locations on campus for photos. We’ve provided some suggestions here. If you share that photo or other well-wishes on social media, use the hashtag #LawrenceGrad. You can find a Grad Celebration Kit complete with fun social media tools here.

Bonus II: There are more weekend events: The Sunday ceremony won’t be the only in-person event for the graduates. Other traditions will continue during Commencement weekend, including:

  • Senior Art Show is available for viewing June 11-13, but you’ll need to plan ahead. Members of the Class of 2021 can request a time for friends and family to visit the exhibit in the Wriston Art Galleries. Visits are available 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; and noon-2 p.m. Sunday. See details here and take a virtual peek here.
  • The Commencement Concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Chapel. The in-person audience will be limited, but it will be streamed live, with a link provided shortly before the event. See details here.
  • The Baccalaureate Service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday in Memorial Chapel. It will be a multi-faith celebration of the spiritual journey of the Class of 2021. It will be streamed live, with a limited number of in-person seats available for Lawrence students, faculty and staff. A form for requesting an in-person seat can be found on the Commencement page at

Need more? Graduates and their families can find Commencement information here and FAQs here.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

Looking to take a fun photo on campus? We’ve got some ideas (10 of them)

Main Hall and the green that surrounds it provide a plethora of photo opportunities for those living on or visiting campus. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Alex Freeman ’23

A picture is worth a thousand words—at least that’s what Instagram has taught me.

This article was made for me: I’m the friend who insists on the group photo every time we go out. I scroll through my camera roll when I’m trying to remember that one student life event from freshman year. I always have my phone camera ready (and my hair and outfit lookin’ cute), because you never know when that perfect photo op will present itself.

We did an earlier version of great campus photo ops. Check it out here. (These nine plus our new 10 give you 19 great ideas)

Every photo is a memory saved for later, and I want to make sure I remember it in all its glory. So basically, I’ve been scouting out Lawrence’s best photo spots since I first visited campus. Whether you’re looking for the “undeniably Lawrence” backdrop or one of campus’s many hidden gems, get ready to smile, because these 10 destinations (we tried not to duplicate the above version; and please remember of follow all safety protocols) will guarantee your pic is worthy of the rinsta.

1. Ready the Ship window in Warch

As the newest addition to my collection of campus backdrops, it’s only fair that the new logo decal in the front window of Warch Campus Center tops the list. The Viking Athletics ship logo incorporates so many aspects of Lawrence history—the antelope of the Amos Lawrence Family Coat of Arms as the figurehead, the university crest holding up the mast, the immediately recognizable LU decorating the sail—and honestly, it just looks pretty freaking cool.

Insider Fun-Fact: Starting this piece with the viking ship lets me make a cheesy joke about setting sail with the rest of this list!

2. Colman/Brokaw bridge

The Colman/Brokaw bridge is the type of photo spot that you walk by every day but probably don’t appreciate how photogenic it is. This one is all about the angles. Whether you’re taking a selfie against the railing, sitting in the middle of the path with a friend, or looking over the edge at the photographer standing down below, there’s no shortage of opportunities to capture a top-notch and uniquely-you photo.

3. Mural on Drew Street

Who doesn’t love a little surprise in their life? Just below the aforementioned bridge is a mural, regularly repainted to showcase varying on-campus events and phenomena. A mural celebrating Earth Week was up when I had my photo shoot, but this location is unique in that the shot will always provide the context of a special moment in time—you never know what you’re going to get, but it will always be distinctly Lawrence.

4. Basically, anywhere on Main Hall Green

As soon as the sun comes out and the temperature hits 60 degrees, I’m busting out the picnic blanket, some sunscreen, and a good book and heading over to Main Hall Green. From there, I can look straight in any direction to find a top-notch photo spot. Quaint benches are scattered around the yard for traditional family photos, or of course, you can always just lie in the grass if you can’t resist the temptation. Trust me, you’ve never seen another scene that’s quite this green.

5. Steitz atrium

Natural light enhances any photo, but the weather doesn’t always agree with me. When I found an indoor location with brilliant natural light from the skylight (which, well, takes up the whole ceiling), I knew it was a keeper. Soaring three floors up in Steitz Hall’s atrium, this photo spot promises a compelling backdrop of geometric patterns, accent plants, and the comfiest chairs on campus.

6. Trever woods

The Trever woods are easily the most secluded, unknown photo location on campus. I, a self-proclaimed photo-aficionado, only found this spot a couple weeks ago, so I know it’s past time that the Trever woods are exposed for their full glory. Right behind Trever Hall, on the very edge of campus, a short trail leads down to the Fox River, and the surrounding trees offer the perfect backdrop of foliage, with glimpses of blue water and sky peeking through the branches.

Location-scouting tip: Exploring is a great way to find new photo ops! Because campus is constantly evolving, there’s always something new to find, no matter how long you’ve lived here.

7. Chapman Hall welcome wall

There’s a reason why the first thing prospective students see when they start their campus tour is Chapman Hall, and I think it’s just to show off the “Bring Your Light” wall. And after seeing it myself, I can understand why. The word I keep coming back to is just “stunning.” Showcasing a stunning aerial photo of the Lawrence campus, lit up by a stunning sunset, the wall flows neatly into a stunning series of photographs of Lawrence’s stunning accomplishments. Do you see what I’m going for here? It’s pretty stunning.

8. Briggs Hall overlook

My first photo shoot on campus was at the Briggs Overlook, and freshman-me knew what she was doing. Jutting out over the hill Briggs Hall is built into, the overlook offers the best view on campus: towering bridges, treetops extending for miles, blue sky as far as the eye can see, and of course, the beautiful Fox River.

9. Ledge between Memorial Hall and Wellness Center

The Briggs Overlook is a classic for any photo, but just a short walk to the east leads you to one of Lawrence’s most criminally under-utilized photo backdrops. With a view of Appleton that rivals that of Briggs, the stone ledge between Memorial Hall and the Wellness Center provides an impressive frame for a deserving view, curved in a way that makes the background look even more expansive.

Posing tip: Any location that gives you the opportunity to sit down makes it easier to answer the age-old question: What do I do with my hands???

10. Sage patio

I know, I know, more views of Appleton and the Fox River—but hear me out! This one is special. The metallic, industrial staircase and railings provide an eye-catching contrast to the serene view of trees and water below. Just behind Sage Hall, this patio area is the most underused of all the prime river photo locales, so you know you’ll have plenty of time to snap as many photos as you want without getting side-eye from passersby. And when you’re done, you can just head straight down the steps for a stroll along Lawrence’s very own river path!

Alex Freeman ’23 is a student writer in the Office of Communications. Thanks to Alex and her friends for supplying all these great photos.

D&I Award winners engage with issues, initiatives that make LU more equitable

Lawrence University

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The 2021 recipients of Lawrence University’s Diversity & Inclusion Champion Awards were celebrated May 25 in a virtual event that highlighted their contributions to the campus.

Recipients include Shaun Brown ’21, Student Award; LUDWiG (Lawrence University Disability Working Group), chaired by Alex Chand ’22, Student Organization Award; Jaime Gonzalez ’16, Staff Award; Horacio Contreras, assistant professor of music, Faculty Award; and the Kaukauna Area School District First of Many program, Community Partner Award.

“These impressive individuals have used their many talents, resources, influence, and privilege to help make Lawrence University more inclusive,” Kimberly Barrett, vice president for diversity and inclusion and associate dean of the faculty, said in announcing this year’s recipients. “While excelling in their individual roles of faculty, student, staff or community leader, they have also helped us become a more diverse and equitable university that supports all associated with the institution reach their unique potential. Whether through service, activism or teaching, they have all helped to make Lawrence a better place in which to work and learn.”

Shaun Brown ’21

Shaun Brown ’21 (Photo by Danny Damiani)

A psychology and cultural anthropology double major, Brown has been involved in numerous initiatives, including working as an Admissions senior intern on the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Student Recruitment Team and serving as one of two student representatives on the recent Presidential Search Committee.

“As an admissions counselor, he has effectively modeled what an antiracist admissions process can look like through his culturally informed information sessions, compassionate interviewing, and careful reviewing of applications,” his nomination stated.

Brown also has shown leadership within Sankofa House and Black Student Union and has helped nurture cross-cultural connections via All is One, LU Native Americans (LUNA), Brother to Brother, and Alianza.

LUDWiG, chaired by Alex Chand ‘22

LUDWiG participants include: top row from left, Maria Jankowski, Alex Chand, Jojo Maier; bottom row from left, Malcolm Davis, Sterling Ambrosius, Zoe Nicole Adler

LUDWiG is a new student organization, launched in February through the leadership of Chand, that brings together students, faculty, and staff with a mission to foster inclusion and equity of disabled individuals at Lawrence. It does so through mentorship, education, and a commitment to equitable access.

The nomination for the group applauded Chand, a double major in physics and English, for her persistent efforts to bring the organization to fruition.

“Identifying as a person with a disability and as a person of color, these intersectional identities developed her insight and awareness,” the nomination stated. “Frustrated by challenges disabled students face at Lawrence, Alex worked to promote intergroup and cross-cultural understanding through her event programming and cross-organization collaborations.”

Among other efforts, LUDWiG members are working on a Know Your Rights brochure that will highlight disabled students’ rights and resources on campus and will be distributed to incoming first-year students.

Jaime Gonzalez ’16

Jaime Gonzalez ’16 (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Gonzalez serves as director of transfer and transitions in the Admissions office, a position he moved into in April 2020. Prior to that he served as a diversity, inclusion, and access specialist.

He has made significant contributions to diversity recruitment and transfer recruitment strategies since returning to Lawrence in 2019.

“Leading efforts to increase access to Lawrence for underrepresented prospective students, he maintained and strengthened relationships with community-based organizations and provided diversity, inclusion, and access training for our admissions staff to further support our goals of becoming an anti-racist office,” his nomination stated.

“In addition to his current role and his support of many other groups on campus, his day-to-day actions exemplify what being an anti-racist person means. He is forever learning and encouraging others to do the same. The changes he’s created at Lawrence have made us a more anti-racist institution and will leave a legacy for decades to come.”

Horacio Contreras

Horacio Contreras

A professor of cello, Contreras was applauded in the nomination for his long commitment to dismantling bias in music. He co-authored the Sphinx Catalog of Latin-American Cello Works, a free database containing information about works for cello by Latin American composers.

“He is making accessible long-unheard voices, increasing representation, dismantling stereotypes, and creating new ways into cello music’s history and future,” the nomination stated.

Contreras has created opportunities for underrepresented students to pursue high-level professional research, and he frequently helps students who face barriers locate funding for summer experiences, giving them opportunities that will help them pursue graduate work or professional careers.

“By acknowledging and dismantling bias, Professor Contreras demonstrates to his students that they can be both gifted musicians and anti-racists,” the nomination stated. “He achieves all of this in ways that foster greater diversity on campus and beyond through his research, teaching, professional service and mentoring students.”

Kaukauna’s First of Many Program

From Left: Corey Baumgartner, Molly Ruffing ’22, Matt Binsfeld

Molly Ruffing ’22, the Equal Access to Education Service Corps leader in the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE), led the charge to create this mentorship program in her hometown. It matches first-generation Lawrence students with potential first-generation students at Kaukauna High School.

Ruffing worked closely with Principal Corey Baumgartner, counselor Matt Binsfeld, and other officials at the high school to make the program a reality.

The Lawrence mentors meet weekly with their mentees to talk through a range of topics that range from financial aid to the application process to potential barriers.

“With six Lawrence mentors and five Kaukauna juniors, the program was successfully piloted in Winter Term 2021,” the nomination stated. “Due to positive feedback from students, plans are in the works to continue the program in the 2021-22 academic year.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email:

Joy (and concern) in the night sky will be focus of Honors Convocation message

Megan Pickett, associate professor of physics, leads an Earth Hour event on Main Hall Green earlier this spring, sharing information on the night sky. She’ll give the Honors Convocation address on May 27. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The beauty of the night sky, the stories it can tell, and the “light pollution” that is increasingly hindering our view will be the topic of Lawrence University’s May 27 Honors Convocation.

Megan Pickett, associate professor of physics, will deliver the Convocation address, The Stars: Mansions Made by Nature’s Hand, at 11:15 a.m. It will be delivered virtually and is available to the public on the Honors Convocation page at

In her address, Pickett will share why light pollution, the ever-increasing brightening of the sky by artificial lighting, is a concern that has long-term economic, health, and biological costs.

“The stars tell our stories, guide our way, and quietly mark time,” Pickett said in preparation for the Convocation. “They inspire artists and compel scientists. The shared heritage of the night sky is a universal natural resource—and we are losing it, one star at a time.”

The annual Honors Convocation, which publicly recognizes students and faculty recipients of awards and prizes for excellence in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences, languages, music, athletics, and service to others, is traditionally held in Memorial Chapel. But due to campus facilities being closed to the public and physical distancing practices being in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this marks the second year it is being held virtually.

Pickett said she remembers being 12 years old and holding a copy of H.A. Rey’s book, The Stars, as she stared at the night sky in her suburban Detroit neighborhood.

“I truly saw for the first time the hidden treasure suspended above,” she said of that night. “I knew then, standing in a palpably spiritual awe, that my life’s work would be to share that joy and wonder.”

Megan Pickett (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Pickett would go on to become an astrophysicist, earning a bachelor’s degree in physics from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Indiana University. She joined the Lawrence physics department in 2006 after six years on the faculty at Purdue University. Before that, she spent four years as a research associate at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California.

Much of her research through the years has focused on the formation of solar systems.

Now she wants to share some of that work and her passions for protecting the night sky with the Lawrence community.

“I will discuss the problems of light pollution, and the solutions that I and other astronomers advocate—simple, cost effective changes that can give us back our nights,” she said. “I will also explore what we are losing, from the soaring spirit of exploration the sky inspires to the traditions of so many peoples—often overlooked—that are celebrated in the stars themselves.  My work in understanding our home in the cosmos has given me a deep appreciation for how we all come to see that home, and a sense of urgency to save the night for all those 12-year-olds who step out in the cold and look up.”

Pickett said more than 80% of the world, and 99% of America, lives under a polluted sky. 

“Fully one-third of the world can no longer see the Milky Way, our home galaxy, including more than half of Europe and three-quarters of America,” she said. “In the few enclaves of pristine sky, you can see 5,000 stars on a clear night, but if you live in suburban America, only a tenth of that number; in a city, less than 50.”

Don’t take it for granted, Pickett said. There is joy in those stars, and generations to come may be hard-pressed to find it.

“The night sky is at once a visible and an ephemeral natural resource,” she said. “Its loss, and the increase in unnecessary sky-brightness come with economic, medical, and biological costs. As important, we lose something of ourselves, and our history, as each generation sees less of the wondrous night.”

Ami Hatori ’23 will perform the Convocation’s prelude, Jupiter’s Moons, on piano. The postlude, On a Clear Day, will feature Courtney Wilmington ’22, soprano vocals; Samara Morris ’21, alto vocals; Jack Murphy ’21, tenor vocals; David Womack ’22, bass vocals; Nick Muellner ’20, alto and tenor saxophones; Alyssa Kuss ’22, baritone saxophone; Jack Benedict ’21, trumpet; Allie Goldman ’21, trombone; Carson Bell ’22, guitar; Rowan Barcham, keyboard; Ali Remondini ’21, double bass; and Daniel Green ’21, drum set.

This is the third and final convocation of Lawrence’s 2020-21 academic year. The earlier convocations featured President Mark Burstein and author Kiese Laymon.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: