2 Minutes With … Earl Simons Jr.: Following passions in music, Japanese

Earl Simons Jr. ’22 (Photos by Danny Damiani)

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

One of the best parts of the Lawrence experience for many students is getting a chance to explore a deep interest even if it’s not in your primary area of study. Earl Simons Jr. ’22 can attest to that.

The junior from Queens, New York, isn’t working toward a degree in music—he’s majoring in international relations and minoring in Japanese—but has had the opportunity to nurture his trumpet skills with the Conservatory of Music. He’s played with the award-winning Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble, and this term is taking trumpet lessons as an independent study with trumpet professor John Daniel. 

Simons has been playing the trumpet since fourth grade and has gotten instruction along the way from some accomplished trumpet players, including Peter Archer, the New York City middle school teacher who was an inspiration for the Disney-Pixar film, Soul. 

“He has had a big influence on my life; he is also a Black trumpeter,” Simons said of Archer. “Fun fact, he was a big inspiration for the movie Soul. The middle school in the film is almost an exact replica of our middle school band room. Really proud of him for that.” 

Earl Simons Jr. ’22 isn’t pursuing a music degree but he still follows his music passions in the Conservatory of Music. It is one of the things that drew him to Lawrence, he said.

A common misconception with the Conservatory is you have to be majoring in music to take part in ensembles or other aspects of the music program. That’s not the case.  

“For two years I was part of the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble,” Simons said. “When I was looking into Lawrence, I was in contact with Ken Anselment (vice president for enrollment and communication), and he told me about the jazz program. He also got me in contact with Patty Darling, director of the Jazz Ensemble.”  

Studying abroad in Japan

Along with following his passion in music, Simons has been able to explore his interest in East Asian culture.  

“I’ve always been interested in East Asian cultures, ever since I was a kid,” Simons said. “For elementary and middle school, my schools were prominently Asian. So, I was always engaged in and had a deep apperception for the cultures. It wasn’t until high school where I focused on Japanese culture and language. I knew I wanted to pursue it in college.”  

Simons started studying Japanese at Lawrence his first year and had the opportunity to participate in an eight-week summer immersion program with the Middlebury Language Schools in Vermont.  

“My professor, Akimi Adler, told me about it and I got in,” Simons said. “When you do this over the summer, it’s an immersion program, so it’s eight weeks of the language, no English. For eight weeks you have to honor a pledge to only speak in the language you are studying. And that really helped.”  

During this program, Simons realized how much he enjoyed learning Japanese and has decided to take his study of Japanese language and culture to Japan. He will be participating in the Waseda University semester program for Fall and Winter terms.  

“At the Middlebury Language Schools is where I really fell in love with Japanese,” Simons said. “A lot of the professors there were asking me, ‘Are you going to go to Japan?’ That’s when I thought about it and decided I wanted to study abroad in Japan.”

Simons will be taking classes at Waseda University. He then will participate in a cultural internship before returning to Lawrence in mid-March.  

“I want my experience in Japan to enlighten me about new opportunities I could take,” Simons said. “That’s what I am most excited for; I want to be inspired to do more things.” 

Simons will be bringing his trumpet with him to Japan.  

“I want to see their jazz clubs,” Simons said. “I don’t know what the jazz scene is like in Japan, but I heard it’s good.” 

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

On Main Hall Green With … Alyssa Hakes: Digging deep into plant ecology

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Alyssa Hakes (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Alyssa Hakes, an associate professor of biology, has focused on plant ecology since joining the Lawrence faculty in 2012.

Much of her research has involved plant-insect interactions. She involves her students in that research, using observational studies, field experiments, and computer models to understand how the spatial location of plants and plant traits might influence interactions with other organisms and what that might mean for plant reproduction and trait evolution.

Over the past year, Hakes has used goofy costumes to lighten the mood and help her students on Zoom get through the pandemic.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University.

We caught up with her to talk about interests in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

I always get nervous and excited on the first day of class. I’m nervous because I care about you and your learning experience and I want to do a good job. I want our classroom—whether in Steitz, Youngchild, or on Zoom—to be a fun and welcoming space. My office is overgrown with potted plants and if you visit me, I will likely offer to give you one. 

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

My lab conducts field work at Whitefish Dunes State Park located near Bjorklunden. I study a rare plant called Pitcher’s thistle and an invasive insect, an evil weevil, that is eating their seeds. We discovered areas of the dunes that are more susceptible to weevil infestation and are studying how weevils move and select their plant hosts so that we can use this information to develop conservation strategies. It’s exciting research in a beautiful natural area. 

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional, or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

As a college freshman, I knew I wanted to become a biologist but I was worried that learning about evolution in my classes would damage my religious faith. I was surprised to find support and acceptance from both my church—turns out my denomination is fine with evolution—and science mentors who insisted that I belong. It turned out not to be the issue I thought it would be. Now, evolution is one of my favorite topics to teach.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing? 

I would want to work for the Girl Scouts of the USA organization. I’m a lifetime member of Girl Scouts and I benefited from their girl-centered mission and programming. When I was a graduate student at LSU, I volunteered for Girl Scouts and led local scouts on several backpacking and canoeing adventures. 

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

The Briggs greenhouse is one of my favorite spots on campus, especially during the Winter Term when I’m missing green plants and warmth. We have a nice teaching collection of desert and tropical plants that are used in several of our biology classes. My favorite plants are the cycads and the Amorphophallus titanum corpse flower plant, which I hope will grow large enough to flower someday and bless our campus with its famous stench.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

I’m going to focus my answer to the art that got me through this past year. My favorite book and movie of 2020 were Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi and The Forty-Year-Old Version, respectively. During the pandemic I also turned to the nostalgia and comfort of familiar music and TV. I listened to a lot of David Bowie and laughed along to old episodes of MST3K.

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

See more faculty profiles here.

2 Minutes With … Adya Kadambari: Putting a focus on Earth Week

Adya Kadambari ’23 on the Lawrence campus overlooking the Fox River. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

The COVID-19 pandemic may have kept us from celebrating together in 2020, but Earth Day and Earth Week festivities at Lawrence will spring back into action in the coming days. Adya Kadambari ‘23, chair of the new LUCC Ad Hoc Sustainability Committee, has played a lead role in organizing the events.

Formed this year, the LUCC Ad Hoc Sustainability Committee brings together students from Lawrence’s numerous environmentally-centered student organizations, including Greenfire, ORC (Outdoor Recreation Club), and SLUG (Sustainable Lawrence University Gardens), to discuss and support sustainability efforts.

Lawrence’s Earth Week schedule includes, among other things, LU Earth Hour, a lights-out event and gathering on Main Hall Green on the evening of Earth Day (April 22), a screening of the documentary film I Am Greta on April 23, and an Earth Day Gala on April 24.

A growing interest

While chairing this committee is Kadambari’s first environmental leadership role, she’s not new to the subject. When she was approached about taking on the chair duties, she had already sat in on many Sustainability Committee meetings, where she was involved in reducing plastic waste and facilitating use of reusable bags at Warch Campus Center.

Her environmental stewardship was nurtured before she came to Lawrence. While in school in her hometown of Bangalore, India, she completed a geographical research project through Cambridge Board on Lake Ulsoor. Her interest in environmental issues has continued to grow, she said.

Organizing in a pandemic

The ongoing pandemic makes this a complicated time to organize events meant to include many students.

“This entire thing is a challenge for me,” Kadambari said. “I need to take a lot of things into account. You need to reserve outdoor spaces and give a proposed plan for why your event is going to be COVID-safe.”

Despite technical roadblocks, Kadambari and the rest of the committee have worked hard to make the celebration safe for everyone.

For her part, Kadambari has planned a mass planting of native flowering plants behind Sage Hall Loft. She also helped put together the Greenfire-sponsored LU Earth Hour event, where students will be encouraged to turn off all the lights in their rooms and venture outside to look at the stars and talk about astronomy and energy conservation.

Other Earth Week favorites will return this year, such as the Saturday gala hosted by Greenfire, which can be enjoyed on Main Hall Green as well as virtually.

Kadambari looks forward to Earth Day as a time to celebrate our environment and encourage sustainability at Lawrence. But it has also taken on new meaning as a chance to safely step outside and enjoy the world in ways that haven’t been as available to us lately.

“I hope the student body comes out because it should be better weather,” she said. “Now that we’ve been cooped up for so long, they should come out and have fun.”

In the spirit of Earth Day, she also reminds students about the sustainability grants available to those who want to enact a sustainability project on campus.

“If you have any ideas that you want to put money toward, there are multiple grants you can apply for through the steering committee and LUCC. It’s just a matter of getting involved and being proactive.”

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.

Lighting the Way With … Poonam Kumar: Path leads to global law success

Poonam Kumar ’04

About this series: Lighting the Way With … is a periodic series in which we shine a light on Lawrence University alumni. Today we catch up with Poonam Kumar ’04, a corporate partner in the global law firm of DLA Piper.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Poonam Kumar ’04 came to Lawrence University at the outset of the millennium intent on being a lawyer.

An international student from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, in India, she came from a family of doctors and engineers. But it was corporate law that grabbed her attention early and never let go.

“I enjoyed analytical thinking and critical reasoning and that drew me to the law,” Kumar said.

It also drew her to Lawrence. She knew she wanted the path to law school to go through a liberal arts college, and she found what she was looking for at Lawrence. She double-majored in economics and political science and minored in philosophy, all the while feeding an appetite for analytics and reasoning that would serve her well in law school and beyond.

She pointed to professors such as Minoo Adenwalla in Government, Bertrand Goldgar in English, Tom Ryckman in Philosophy, and Karen Carr in Religious Studies in challenging her to think critically and communicate clearly on subjects that spanned the disciplines.

“At Lawrence, I learned about being a critical thinker and a critical reader, being analytical, and being able to write clearly and effectively,” she said. “All the things they focus on as freshmen and then over the course of our time at Lawrence. Those skills really helped me to make good impressions at the various internships I had before I got to law school, and then during law school. And then when I started working.”

That path from Lawrence led Kumar to the University of Texas School of Law and eventually to DLA Piper, one of the largest global law firms in the world. The firm has offices in 40 countries, including in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific. Kumar, working out of the firm’s Minneapolis office, was named a partner in 2018, less than a decade and a half after graduating from Lawrence.

Her work at DLA Piper focuses mostly on advising large global companies on a variety of corporate transactions.

“Because of the global nature of my work and clients, I work primarily with people outside the U.S.,” she said.

Kumar again points to her experiences in and out of the classroom at Lawrence for preparing her to work in a global, intense, and fast-moving environment. The lessons learned as an undergrad, she said, set a base for everything that would follow, allowing her to pivot effectively no matter the subject or location.

“For the fundamental skills of reading critically, being able to express yourself in an effective way, peer communication; all that at Lawrence was very helpful,” she said. “And still is helpful. I see other people who struggle with those basic skills and I found that it had helped me to have gone to a good liberal arts school.”

Kumar said her time at Lawrence also helped in the decision of her family moving to the Twin Cities. She learned to value the charms of the Midwest while at Lawrence. She spent considerable time in New York after her parents moved there, but she was drawn to the upper Midwest as a place where she and her husband wanted to live, work, and raise their child – a daughter who is now 8.

“I think people downplay how unique Lawrence is, even by its location,” Kumar said. “We really bring a different mindset and a different perspective when we go out to the coasts; or to other cities. I think the Lawrence training was spectacular. … I think Lawrence really does do a good job at training us and giving us a good perspective on things.”

In addition to her legal work, Kumar also has been active in advocating for diversity and inclusion at her firm and within the larger legal community in the Twin Cities. She serves on the board of directors for Minnesota Women Lawyers, an organization geared toward supporting women lawyers across Minnesota, and chairs an affinity group for diverse partners and counsel at her firm.  

“I have always believed, and happily experienced, that having a diverse set of viewpoints, experiences, and backgrounds always makes for a richer discussion and a richer problem-solving effort,” Kumar said. “So, I’ve always tried to help create that mix of people.”

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

For other Lighting the Way With … features on Lawrence alumni, see here.

On Main Hall Green with … Benjamin Rinehart: Creativity, art, and equity

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Benjamin D. Rinehart (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Benjamin D. Rinehart, a professor of printmaking and artist books, knows a thing or two about the creative field of book-making. He’s written the book on it.

A member of the Lawrence art faculty since 2006, Rinehart specializes in socially charged images with an emphasis on printmaking, book constructions, painting, and drawing. His work is included in numerous public and private collections and has been exhibited both nationally and internationally.

He’s the author of Creating Books & Boxes, a book that explores a range of art techniques.

Rinehart received a bachelor’s degree at Herron School of Art and a master’s degree at Louisiana State University and previously taught at Pratt Institute in New York and New Jersey, Rutgers/Mason Gross School of the Arts, Long Island University, Fordham University, Fashion Institute of Technology, and Manhattan Graphics Center.

We caught up with him to talk about his passions in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

I aim to create a welcoming, challenging, and equitable learning environment in my classes. Teaching and making art are two of my greatest passions in life aside from my family—including the fur babies. I enjoy finding solutions to problems and challenges whether big or small. I especially enjoy anything centered around artistic practice.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

Becoming a Posse mentor is one of my proudest achievements on campus. In the past year and a half, I have learned so much about myself and the scholars that I support. It has made me a better advisor, teacher, advocate, artist, and socially engaged human being. The connections that I’ve made through this program are extremely meaningful and fulfilling.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

I moved to NYC with less than $1,500 in my bank account after grad school with no job prospects. Expecting to only stay for a year, I was reluctant to settle down. Things in my life started falling into place after a few months and I made connections all along the eastern seaboard that I maintain to this day. The eight years that I spent in NYC—Brooklyn primarily—was an exciting, uncertain, challenging, and extremely rewarding time in my life.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing?  

I would definitely want to become a chef. I love making a wide variety of foods, and it’s a fun challenge to try out new recipes. Cuisine outside of the United States offers a glimpse into commonalities between cultures. They all seem to have a similar foundation when beginning the cooking process, but the ingredients vary according to region and availability. One of our family favorites is a Masaman curry with homemade naan and mango lassis. Serving others something tasty brings me great joy. It is satisfying to see smiling faces after spending time in the kitchen whether it be from the flavor or presentation. Only the best recipes make it into the family cookbook.

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

I enjoy the view from the hill behind Memorial Hall. Seeing the garden, river, and shoreline offers a peaceful vantage point. Seeing bald eagles isn’t something that I ever saw growing up, and their majestic presence is undeniable. Also, I hear the hill is amazing for sledding during the winter. I haven’t tried it out yet but imagine that I would be screaming (mostly with joy) the entire way down.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

The book Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin is a work that has influenced my view of the world since I first read it. Perhaps it’s cliché, but his writing style and observations resonated with me deeply. Baldwin represented a world that was real and fraught with problems while simultaneously and desperately trying to connect with others. He was a person who was decades ahead of his time and is still one of my heroes.

I never grow tired of listening to Sade. Her hypnotic voice floods my brain, encouraging creative flow and contemplation.

It’s hard to pinpoint a single film, so I choose any of the Marvel movies.

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

Find more On Main Hall Green With … features here.

2 Minutes with … Iyanu Osunmo: Insight into D.C. via Washington Semester

Iyanu Osunmo ’22 is participating in Washington Semester remotely.

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

Despite not being able to attend the Washington Semester program in person in the nation’s capital because of pandemic restrictions, Iyanu Osunmo ’22 is still embracing the off-campus program.  

She began her studies in January, working remotely from her home in Houston, and will continue into May.

“I am doing two seminars in the foreign policy concentration,” she said. “One of my seminars is about managing the pandemic in globalized societies and the other one is about political transition and political implications.”  

Osunmo, a government major focused on international relations, is taking classes with the American University faculty as part of the Washington Semester program, offered through Lawrence University’s Off-Campus Programs. The program is encouraged for government majors but is open to all students.

The Washington Semester enables students to participate in a thematic program of study at the American University in D.C. In addition to the core seminar, students pursue an internship related to the program topic and an independent study project. The Lawrence-approved program tracks include American Politics, International Environment and Development, International Law and Organizations, Justice and Law, Peace and Conflict Resolution, Islam and World Affairs Foreign Policy, and Global Economics and Business.

Typically, students participating in Washington Semester would be in D.C., giving them the opportunity to physically experience working and studying in the nation’s capital. That isn’t possible right now, with all classes being moved online.

Still, there is a lot she is gaining from the program, Osunmo said.

“I am taking seminars with people from many universities; for example, Lehigh University and students from other liberal arts universities across the country,” she said. 

Hearing from expert voices

The Washington Semester instructors have been able to bring in pieces of Washington.  

“The program has had to shift quite a bit due to the online nature of it, but I do believe our seminar instructors are doing all that they can to really engage us with D.C.,” Osunmo said. “For instance, they get a lot of speakers from the D.C. area and they tell us what Washington, D.C., is like. … Hillary Clinton’s speech writer came to speak to our class. Lissa Muscatine was the former chief speech writer and senior advisor to the secretary of state. She taught us a lot about the White House’s operations and about her experiences as a speech writer. I learned a great deal from her; that was a really valuable experience.” 

In addition to taking classes, Osunmo is participating in an internship, working for the National Democratic Institute’s Gender, Women, and Democracy office. The National Democratic Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that works with partners in developing countries to increase the effectiveness of democratic institutions.

“Currently, I am helping them with a presentation that teaches women and people in the media about building coalitions and about violence against women in politics and the media,” Osunmo said. “It’s a nice training curriculum that I get to help put together, and it’s a really rewarding experience.” 

Preparing for the next step

The internship and the classes are prepping Osunmo for life after Lawrence. She said she cares deeply about democracy and the equitable treatment of oppressed people and sees herself one day holding elected office. 

“I do believe that my experiences at the Washington Semester program have not only deeply integrated me into the field I intend to go into, by enabling me to hear from government experts and foreign policy experts, but it also has taught me about what is more valuable with regard to governance,” Osunmo said. “Protecting human health and human security, ensuring democracy continually survives, and ensuring elections are fair and transparent.”  

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

2 Minutes With … Jojo Maier: Judicial Board chair works to keep campus safe

Jojo Maier ’21 is chairing the Judicial Board remotely. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Jojo Maier ’21 is probably more present in your life than you think. As this year’s chair of the Lawrence University Judicial Board, the biochemistry major helps make tough decisions in tough times to keep everyone on campus safe.

The Judicial Board is a student-run LUCC committee that oversees alleged violations of the Social Code at Lawrence. While perhaps not as known as the Honor Code, the Social Code encompasses the rest of the Student Handbook, primarily protecting students’ personal safety and property rights. Violations of the Social Code vary from noise complaints to theft to threatening situations.

What doesn’t budge is the Judicial Board’s belief in member diversity and education over punishment. Maier was nominated to serve on the Judicial Board as a first-year student and elected chair this year as a senior. As a supporter of restorative justice, he regards the Board’s tenets highly.

“Part of why I enjoy the Board is because I’m able to bring justice to campus in a way that’s not completely punitive,” he explains. “It’s a nice feeling when you realize that you’re able to make some change on campus and make sure people are upholding the rules.”

Staying safe in a pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has recast what it means to be safe on campus. The Judicial Board now refers to the Pledge in hearings regarding violations of COVID safety guidelines.

“This year, being able to help uphold the COVID policies really feels important,” Maier says.

With new policies come more potential violations. Cases totaled only two or three in previous years. By the middle of Winter Term this year, the Judicial Board already saw four cases. And that means Maier is busier; the chair must organize and attend each hearing, acting as a moderator and guiding the procedures.

Gaining problem-solving skills

Despite these changes, Maier emphasizes that maintaining safety on campus is just as important as any other year. Though currently off campus in his home of Eugene, Oregon, he still enjoys the experience Judicial Board has to offer.

“[Board members] appreciate the learning experience,” he says. “There’s a lot of critical thinking involved that prepares you for all sorts of jobs.”

Maier has gained problem-solving and leadership skills, particularly valuable to the hopeful future pharmacist. He encourages fellow and future students to exercise their right to voice their concerns on campus.

“I think Judicial Board is underutilized,” he says. “Often there’s the perception that people are making more complaints than are happening. But there are very few violations reported. That doesn’t mean there are very few violations happening.”

Know someone who can make difficult decisions? The nomination process for 2021-22 Judicial Board members will begin in Spring Term.

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.

On Main Hall Green With … Eilene Hoft-March: Focused on the student journey

Portrait on Main Hall Green: Eilene Hoft-March (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Eilene Hoft-March joined the Lawrence University faculty with a student-focused teaching style and a deep love of French literature and autobiographies. Thirty-two years later, that all remains true.

The Milwaukee-Downer College and College Endowment Association Professor of Liberal Studies and professor of French has been the recipient through the years of some of Lawrence’s most esteemed teaching awards—the then-named Young Teacher Award in 1991, the Freshman Studies Teaching Award in 1997, and the Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2011.

She has taught courses in Gender Studies, has directed Lawrence’s Francophone Seminar in Dakar, Senegal, and has advised students coming to Lawrence via the Posse Program.

She holds a bachelor of arts degree in French and English from what was then Carroll College and master’s and doctoral degrees in French from the University of California-Berkeley.

We caught up with Hoft-March to talk about her interests in and out of the classroom.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

I’d like students to know that, while I have a professional responsibility to guide them through the course material, each class is uniquely shaped by who shows up in the classroom. The mistakes we make—and I include myself—the questions we ask, and the challenges we encounter all give distinctive worth to the whole enterprise. The more we dig in, the more our work becomes part of our personal strategies for dealing with what’s beyond the classroom.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

Being at the far end of my career at Lawrence, I am grateful for having been able to participate in the launch of Gender Studies and Global Studies, and in the integration of Francophone Studies into my own department, as well as being part of the Posse program. Looking forward, I want to return to the project of reconstructing and writing the story of my grandparents’ immigration to this country.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

I first went to Dakar, Senegal in 1998 when the French and Francophone Studies department’s Francophone seminar was new. I had no practical experience and little knowledge of French-speaking West African cultures. My Dakar friends’ and family’s warm hospitality, their patience in making me culturally presentable, and their curiosity about my indelible American-ness was a lot to undertake. I fell in love with their vibrant culture. Every March, the season when we leave for Dakar, I still feel a tug of nostalgia for the sandy, Sahel heat and the musical sounds of Wolof.

OUT OF THE CLASSROOM

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing?  

I suspect I’d still be teaching, but a back-up career would focus on feeding people. Making food is, in my humble opinion, a sacred and fulfilling task. You can do a lot with food to rekindle energy, friendship, and love.

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

My office. I am blessed with two stunning views of the campus from my office windows. The north window gives a view of the Chapel, Lawrence’s iconic performance space open to Lawrentians and, just as importantly, to the community beyond the University. From the south window, you can see the library, also a public space symbolizing a lot of what Lawrence is about. It’s lovely to look on these buildings that support endless potential for engagement with knowledge and art.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

One favorite book? That’s like asking me who my favorite relative is, though I wouldn’t want to push that analogy too far. I have special relationships to books that have accompanied me through tough phases of life or books whose readings shared with others have enriched my relationships. For now, I’ll go with, in English, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and, in French, Marie Darrieussecq’s Bref séjour chez les vivants (Brief Sojourn Among the Living).

One recording? So many choices. Jaap Schröder on violin playing Bach Sonatas and Partitas, Joni Mitchell’s Mingus, and Tracing Astor by Gidon Kremer. The Piazzolla recordings are great for gliding around the kitchen while cooking.

Films? Branagh’s Dead Again and Nolan’s Memento. I’m a sucker for psychological thrillers.

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

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

Daniel Toycen ’21 has been working in Milwaukee as an EMT for the past year. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Awa Badiane ’21

The importance of first responders has become increasingly evident a year into the pandemic as hospitals and emergency rooms have remained all-hands-on-deck. Daniel Toycen ’21 is one of the many brave essential first responders tackling this pandemic head on.

The Lawrence University biology major has been working in Milwaukee as an emergency medical technician (EMT) since last March, balancing work with his studies. Toycen, who aspires to be a physician assistant, applied for the role right before the pandemic changed everyone’s lives.  

“I was looking to get patient-experience hours for applying to grad school and physician assistant programs,” he said. “I decided on EMT because you are seeing a wide range of patients and arguably seeing them at the most stressful point in their lives. I wanted to be able to develop my bedside manner with them during difficult times.”  

While he lives off campus in Appleton, Toycen opted to work in Milwaukee because of the high volume of calls.

“I also wanted to see the bigger hospitals in the area and how those hospitals work,” he said. “And I wanted to work with a more diverse patient pool.” 

When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic last March, Toycen, then a junior, knew hospitals were going to need more help. He started working as an EMT before COVID took a major a toll on Wisconsin hospitals, giving him a glimpse of EMT life “pre-pandemic,” he said.   

“A typical shift, you get there early to talk to the crew that is getting off shift,” Toycen said. “Then we check over the ambulance to make sure we have all of our supplies and the ambulance is working — all the lights are working, checking tires, things like that. Right after that we are put in service and are able to receive calls.” 

Important classroom lessons 

To qualify to be an EMT, Toycen took an accelerated course at Fox Valley Technical College. 

Toycen said he is particularly grateful for the skills he has learned in the classroom at Lawrence, as he finds himself tapping into those skills at work. In addition to his major in biology, he is pursuing a minor in biomedical ethics.

“My medical ethics courses and medical anthropology have both helped me be able to have knowledge on people’s backgrounds,” Toycen said. “[They taught me] how culture and health care intersect, and, being mindful of that, I am able to provide better care to the patients I do have. When I am out there in the field, I think back to lessons or discussions we had in class and I’m like, ‘Woah, this really applies here’.”  

When the pressure is on

Toycen has been on the call for some very high-pressure emergencies.  

“I was on a 16-hour shift and it was getting kind of late in our shift, and nothing exciting happened up until that point,” Toycen said. “Then we get a call, and we have no idea what we’re going for; it just says ‘assault in progress’. And then we get there, and the patient was stabbed four times in the back and obviously it was very serious. Right after we got done with that call, finished the report, this was probably at 4:30 in the morning, we get a call for a pedestrian that was hit by a car and the car was going like 50 miles an hour; so another call back-to-back at the end of a 16-hour shift super early in the morning.”

Toycen said his work as an EMT has reassured his path in the medical profession and he has even used his work as an EMT in his senior capstone project. Next up for Toycen is applying to physician assistant programs.  

Even though being an EMT is a high-pressure job, Toycen has not let it consume him. He continues to complete his course work at Lawrence remotely and plays on Lawrence’s men’s hockey team, all while maintaining health and safety protocols in the pandemic.

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

2 Minutes With … Lauren Askenazy: First Lawrence goal forever frozen in time

Lauren Askenazy ’23 is a member of Lawrence’s first women’s hockey team. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.

Story by Isabella Mariani ’21

Lauren Askenazy ‘23 has long waited for her chance to play college hockey. She didn’t know she’d be landing in the record books and doing it at a school with deep family roots.

The sophomore transfer student from Albuquerque, New Mexico, became the first player to score a goal in the newly launched women’s hockey program at Lawrence University.

The team faced off against the College of St. Scholastica in its Feb. 13 debut at the Appleton Family Ice Center, fulfilling Askenazy’s dream of playing college hockey. With 3:19 left in the game, she fired a wrist shot over the shoulder of the St. Scholastica goaltender, etching her name in Lawrence lore for evermore.

She followed that up by scoring a goal in each of Lawrence’s first four games.

Lauren Askenazy ’23 scores the first goal in Lawrence history on Feb. 13.

Finding a home

Askenazy was no hockey novice when she arrived at Lawrence. She started playing at 7 years old in her native Albuquerque. From those first shaky steps on the ice, she went on to become a three-year player with the HTI Stars in Canada, from 2016 to 2018.

Askenazy then enrolled at Connecticut College, but she kept her eyes open for a liberal arts school that was the right fit academically and had a women’s hockey team.

Everything fell into place. Vikings coach Jocey Kleiber was recruiting former members of the HTI Stars team when she learned of Askenazy’s interest in college hockey. The two connected and the recruiting process began.

It didn’t take long for her to feel at home on the ice here. She calls hockey a therapeutic outlet.

“I’m so happy every time I can step on the ice,” she said. “Especially since we’re all sitting in our rooms on our computers 24/7. As soon as everyone is together in the locker room, everyone cheers up.”

Family roots at Lawrence

Askenazy didn’t choose Lawrence on a whim. She continues a family legacy at Lawrence — her mother, uncle, and grandfather are alumni. When she was recruited for the newly created hockey team, Lawrence quickly became more than just a university she had always heard about.

“My family members are very excited about me coming to Lawrence and they are so happy I get to continue doing what I love while also making history,” she said.

It goes without saying that a new hockey team beginning its first season faces unconventional challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s especially true, Askenazy said, in the realm of team relations.

“It’s been a lot more difficult, especially because we’re a brand-new team,” she said. “Usually, teams can hang out and do bonding activities, and we can’t do that. But we’re willing to do anything we can to be able to play. We’re appreciative that we can have games.”

Getting wins has been tough early on, but it’s a learning process for a new program, one that is filled with promise.

“Everyone on the team is so excited to be a part of a new program,” Azkenazy said. “We’re building the foundation.”

Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.