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Meet students from the class of 2019

Congratulations to our newest graduates! The class of 2019 comprises outstanding College of Arts and Sciences students who have distinguished themselves in a variety of ways. Get to know a few of them, as they reflect on what they loved most about their time at CWRU, from dedicated faculty to “majestic” on campus.

 

Michelle Reynes Berg

BA in Theater with a concentration in Design/Technical Theater; Minors in Art Studio and Business Management
Hometown: San Jose, California

What is your favorite class and/or faculty member, and why?

Angelina Herin is my advisor and she was instrumental to my growth as a designer and collaborator. She helped me get my first job in a theater and mentored me both academically and professionally. My most recent class with her was a resume and portfolio workshop that helped me line up my next job. Her commitment to diversity in theatre has inspired me to consider the larger impacts I can make through productions and how I can empower those who come after me.

What do you like best about CWRU?

The people I’ve met here are all so passionate and dedicated to their interests.

Describe any research projects, study abroad, internship or other unique experiences and opportunities you have had as a result of being a CWRU student.

The CWRU MFA Theater program is partnered with Cleveland Play House, so I’ve had the unique opportunity to work backstage on professional productions in the oldest regional theater in the country.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in?

I’ve been involved in Players’ Theatre Group throughout the years as a designer, crew member, actor, director, and secretary of the executive board. My first and last shows at CWRU have been PTG productions, and I’m lucky to have met so many talented people through the club.

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?

I gave myself a quest early on in college that I would work on productions of Anton Chekhov’s four main plays (The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard) in as many years, and I finally accomplished that goal this May. I love Chekhov and I think I’ve managed to spread appreciation for his work during my time here. I’m also pretty pleased about graduating.


Monica Chavan

BS/BA in Biology, Spanish, and Cognitive Science
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana


Why did you choose to study these subjects?

I really like biology and always knew I wanted to study it in college. Cognitive science sounded interesting as a freshman and then the faculty turned out to be awesome, so I stuck with it. Spanish kind of happened by accident, because I wanted to study abroad and liked practicing my language skills.

Why did you choose CWRU?

CWRU chose me! It was a perfect confluence of different factors – academics, scholarships, location, size – and it didn’t hurt that my twin brother also chose to go here.

What do you like best about CWRU?

The academic flexibility. I like that I could take high-level classes in completely new departments all the way through second semester senior year: EEPS, political science, economics. CWRU is a place where you don’t have to give up your intellectual curiosity and commit too early or too completely to a single field. You’re free to explore to the very end, and I’ve definitely enjoyed that.

What do you like best about living in Cleveland?

I love everything about Cleveland. The sports scene, Playhouse Square, all the museums, the FOOD. Also, the squirrels. Cleveland’s squirrels are very majestic.

Describe any research projects, study abroad, internship or other unique experiences and opportunities you have had as a result of being a CWRU student.

I did a ten-week summer internship at an astrobiology research center called the SETI Institute in California between my junior and senior year. I don’t think I would have applied the program if I hadn’t been at Case and gotten to take such a broad range of classes that convinced me I could be a valuable team member for that kind of research. It was a very unique and memorable scientific experience.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in?

CWRU Symphonic Winds – I’m a tuba player. It’s a privilege getting to play with music majors and CIM students in such a talented ensemble, even though I only do it for fun.

CWRU Racquetball Club – highly recommend to anyone looking to exercise more. You definitely work up a sweat, and it’s super fun. We have poetry contests too.


Kirsten Costedio

BA in Political Science and International Studies; Minor in Economics
Hometown: Corinna, Maine

Why did you choose to study these subjects?

With a strong desire to help others I became drawn to political science as I view the political system as the most effective tool for creating positive change. Additionally, I was drawn to the field of international studies because I view myself as a global citizen and my desire to serve the public transcends the boundaries of the communities where I grew up or have lived; the world is a community that we all belong to and have a responsibility to serve.

What is your favorite class and/or faculty member, and why?

My favorite class I have taken is called ‘People and Planet.’ I loved this course because it has really opened my eyes to our planetary situation and how morally necessary it is for us to combat climate change. I will carry what I have learned in this course with me for a lifetime.

Why did you choose CWRU?

Having grown up in a very homogenous and incredibly rural area I really wanted to go some place where I could experience new things and broaden my worldview. I looked for schools in Cleveland because I have family here and I fell in love with Case.

What do you like best about CWRU?

I love the people here. I have met the most incredible, genuine, down to earth, and passionate people at this school and I am so thankful that being at this school has brought them all into my life.

Describe any research projects, study abroad, internship or other unique experiences and opportunities you have had as a result of being a CWRU student.

I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad for a semester in France at one of the world’s best political science institutes. I learned so much while abroad, not just about academics but also about myself. I think everyone should study abroad for a semester if they’re able to. I also want to recognize the Political Science’s Wellman Hill Grant which is a grant awarded to select students for a summer internship in public service. I am grateful to have received the Wellman Hill Grant twice so that I could have the opportunity to spend my summers doing such meaningful and impactful work in the community without worrying about my financial situation.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in?

I am a member of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority. Most of my extracurriculars are volunteering positions in the community that CWRU and CCEL have connected me with. These positions include being a Refugee Response tutor, Provost Scholars tutor, Case Elementary tutor, Health Leads advocate, and InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia volunteer.

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?

During my internship after freshman year at CWRU I interned for the Maine People’s Alliance where I organized for the Maine minimum wage campaign all summer. Following this summer the minimum wage ballot initiative was passed in the general election and Maine’s minimum wage was raised. It has been my biggest accomplishment to see all of the work I put into a campaign translate into tangible positive change for a community I care so much about.

What’s next?

For the next 2 years I’ll be serving in the Peace Corps in Mozambique as a high school math teacher. 


Timothy Goler

PhD in Sociology with a specialization in Medical Sociology and Aging and the Life Course
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio


Why did you choose to study this subject?

As an African American male, growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, in a community comprised of mostly poor blacks, I struggled with the duality of my faith and the negative conditions of my community. My professional journey led me to realize my passion and calling in life was to be a person who serves the community.

After service in the United States Marine Corps, I earned my bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Early Childhood Education from Norfolk State University. Upon graduation, I had the honor of teaching kindergarten at Bowling Park Elementary School in Norfolk, Virginia located in between two public housing projects. Each morning, I had 28 hopeful children with inquisitive eyes eagerly waiting for me to share my knowledge and love held for each of them. However, before any learning could take place in the classroom, I had to “detox” their minds from the experiences endured in their homes and neighborhood the night before.

This was also the beginning of my understanding of the impact of social structures on communities, families and children. I understood that in order to improve education more directly, I needed to identify ways to positively influence negative social conditions. To work toward these goals I obtained a master’s degree in Urban Planning, Design and Development from the College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. My efforts were focused on improving the quality of life for children and families. I co-founded a regional public policy think tank called PolicyBridge that examines and analyzes critical policy issues that impact communities of color, particularly African Americans. Since 2004, I have developed and founded Charter schools as a form of equity-based education reform. Creating conditions of social equity through teaching has been my unifying theme. The next steps in my journey built on my love of learning and ideas as I enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Case Western Reserve University.

Why did you choose CWRU?

I chose CWRU as a challenge to myself. I grew up in the adjacent community called Glenville and for me CWRU always looked so far out of reach and looked very prestigious. I choose Case as a personal challenge just to see if I could get admitted and I did. Next was to actually graduate and I will.

What do you like best about CWRU?

As a sociologist, Cleveland Ohio is at the epicenter of culture and catastrophe. To study and research at CWRU in the Urban context of Cleveland enriched my experiences.

What do you like best about living in Cleveland?

It’s my home.

Describe any research projects, study abroad, internship or other unique experiences and opportunities you have had as a result of being a CWRU student.

In my experience as Project Director at the Elderly Care Research Center at Case Western Reserve University, I have gained an appreciation for team-based science and community-based intervention research.


Elizabeth Kollah

BA in Music (Pop-Vocals) and Economics
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio


Why did you choose to study these subjects?

Singing has always been a passion of mine. I started writing and composing music when I was really young. Once I realized that I could study music with a concentration in Pop-Vocals at CWRU, I decided to take it up in my second semester of college once I got accepted to the program.

Why did you choose CWRU?

When I was deciding which university to attend, it depended on how close to a city it was, the types of programs it included, and how many pianos I could find on campus. CWRU was at the top of my list.

What do you like best about CWRU?

I love that students have a voice and they can be heard on their own or through the numerous campus initiatives and groups that we have on campus. There are so many Spartans who have been recognized for different things, whether it be the #WeBelongHereMovement, Legacy Week, Homecoming or sporting events, students have the chance to be heard and celebrated across campus.

What do you like best about living in Cleveland?

Cleveland is cool. If you don’t like the weather, you just wait a bit and it changes. There’s a lot explore with music and art and culture. I spent a lot of time at the Agora Theatre & Ballroom attending concerts, exploring the Art Museums and parks, and evening attending orchestral events at Severance Hall. It feels like there’s always something to do on a given night, and it’s not too far from my family either.

Describe any research projects, study abroad, internship or other unique experiences and opportunities you have had as a result of being a CWRU student.

My capstone project has been the most exciting and yet taxing part of my time at CWRU. I had the opportunity to work with Professor Georgia Cowart and some graduate students on an idea that I had been formulating for the past few years. For the past ten months I received the opportunity to research and develop my own concept album containing my original songs. I am so lucky that the CWRU music department gave me the skills and knowledge and resources to complete such a massive project.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in?

I worked as a Resident Assistant for about 4.5 years. I was also a Student Activities & Leadership Ambassador from my sophomore year to my final semester on campus in the fall of 2018. I also served on a Student-Alumni Ad-Hoc Committee for a couple and Student Advisory Housing Committee for a couple of semesters.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

I enjoy reading poetry, exploring parks and museums, writing music and rock music. I love rock music.

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?

My upcoming album. I have never had a project so large that has taken me so long. I have had a lot of help from friends and family and faculty and I am so excited to share my album with others.


Saloni Lad

BA/MA in Cognitive Science and Biology; Minor in Classics
Hometown: Princeton, New Jersey


Why did you choose to study these subjects?

I’m very interested in understand the inner workings of the human brain and how that affects how individuals interact with others and their environment.
Editor’s Note: Saloni is the 2019 recipient of the Flora Stone Mather Alumnae Award for outstanding Academic Performance in Biology.

What is your favorite class and/or faculty member, and why?

My favorite class is BIOL 216 because I really appreciate the self-directed learning and hybrid model of the class. There are too many amazing faculty members to pick a favorite.

Why did you choose CWRU?

I chose CWRU because I knew it was very strong in the sciences and was an idea place to study with the goal of going into medicine.

What do you like best about CWRU?

The best part of CWRU are the professors. Everyone has been incredibly supportive and amazing in terms of guiding me for personal and professional issues.

What do you like best about living in Cleveland?

I like the mix of urban and suburban areas that have a variety of things to do.

Describe any research projects, study abroad, internship or other unique experiences and opportunities you have had as a result of being a CWRU student.

I’ve been able to travel to Greece with the Classics department for Spring Break.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in?

I was heavily involved in Discussions, the Undergraduate Research Journal, the ABC Book Club, and served as a Teaching Assistant for two biology classes. 
Editor’s Note: This year, Saloni earned the “Outstanding Undergraduate TA Award” in Biology.

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?

So far, my biggest accomplishment is getting into medical school.


Brian Lerch

BS/MS in Biology and Mathematics
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio


Why did you choose to study these subjects?

I’ve always known that I loved nature. When I was younger I would spend as much time as possible outside. This passion led me to want to study biology. When I got to CWRU, I joined a theoretical ecology lab that uses mathematical models to study populations. I fell in love with the work and this led me to add the major in math.

What is your favorite class and/or faculty member, and why?

Karen Abbott. I joined Dr. Abbott’s lab my second week at CWRU. I can easily say that it was the best decision I made. Dr. Abbott has been an outstanding mentor in my time in her lab. She has an unmatched ability not only to provide valuable insight and feedback, but also to make science a lot of fun. I could not have been more fortunate to have gotten to work with her.

Why did you choose CWRU?

I knew that I wanted to get involved with research once I got to college. The primary reason I chose to come to CWRU is that I felt I would receive the best opportunities to do so.

What do you like best about CWRU?

My friends. I’ve been very fortunate to meet amazing people that I’ve shared fantastic experiences with over the last four years.

Describe any research projects, study abroad, internship or other unique experiences and opportunities you have had as a result of being a CWRU student.

I’ve gotten to take part in many research projects since being here. At CWRU, I’ve studied the ecology and evolution of social behavior. Two summers ago, I was in Knoxville studying mating behavior in birds. Last summer, I went to Kellogg Biological Station where I studied community ecology.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in?

I’ve played on the ice hockey club each of my four years here.

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?

First-authoring a publication is probably the thing I am most proud of.


Amanda Lindamood

BA in Dance, Psychology, and Cognitive Science
Strongsville, Ohio


Why did you choose to study these subjects?

I declared my dance major first because dance is my passion and I was awarded a full tuition scholarship from the Department of Dance. My other passion is studying the brain and mind, so that is why I also declared my psychology and cognitive science majors!

Describe any research projects, study abroad, internship or other unique experiences and opportunities you have had as a result of being a CWRU student.

I was able to intern at Tremco, Inc. in Beachwood, Ohio summer of 2018. As the Organizational Effectiveness Intern, I worked closely with the Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist. I learned many aspects of different career options for me and through this internship, I was able to discover that I can apply all the knowledge I acquired through my majors. Now I have clarified what I want to be and become a Learning & Development Specialist.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in?

I was involved in SpartanTHON my first year and I was a member of the Case Camerata Chamber Orchestra. I also joined Mather Dance Collective and became co-president of this organization since my sophomore year.

Why did you choose CWRU?

I chose CWRU because of the people. Everyone is so welcoming here and supportive!

What do you like best about CWRU?

The fact that students can pursue multiple degrees! The students here inspire me so much.


 

James Wehn

PhD in Art History

James Wehn, a Mellon Fellow in the art history doctoral program conducted jointly by CWRU and the Cleveland Museum of Art, offered a glimpse into his last few days on campus in an art/sci Instagram Takeover. View his posts to learn more about the program, his experiences and where he’s going next.

Where are you from?

I was born in Cleveland, but grew up in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

What are you studying?

My major field is the art of German-speaking lands from 1400-1600, but I also specialize in the history of printmaking in Europe, especially before 1900.

Why did you choose to study this subject?

I have long aspired to be a curator of prints in an art museum.

What is your favorite class and/or faculty member, and why?

My favorite course was a semi-independent study of Rembrandt’s prints and drawings, which another art history graduate student and I took with Professor Catherine Scallen. Dr. Scallen, who is also my advisor, is a Rembrandt expert, so this was a particularly productive course.

Describe any research projects, study abroad, internship or other unique experiences and opportunities you have had as a result of being a CWRU student.

I made several trips to Europe to conduct research and present papers at international conferences. I am grateful for generous grants from the Olszewski Travel Fund, the Nancy and Joseph Keithley Institute for Art History, and the School of Graduate Studies at CWRU, that made many of these trips possible.

Why did you choose CWRU?

I chose CWRU because I knew I wanted to eventually work in an art museum. The joint doctoral program between CWRU and the Cleveland Museum of Art was a perfect fit for me, and has been instrumental in helping me achieve my professional goals.

Page last modified: May 20, 2019