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SUMMER 2 0 0 6

Degrees of difference

  Campus Digest  

Keisha Wainwright '06
has had the support of her family, husband Jeremy and children Noah and Elise, during her pursuit of a degree.

























Ben Lewis '06
lives near campus in a house he shares with his parents, Mike and Lyn, and his younger sister, Emily.

Persistence pays off

Keisha Wainwright '06, 26, graduated with majors in secondary education and history after eight years, six colleges, getting married, and becoming a mother.

"There was never a question in my mind that I wouldn't graduate from college," she says. "I want to teach. It's my dream to see educational reform."

Just 10 years ago she was expelled from high school. "I was intelligent yet behaviorally unsuccessful," skipping classes and talking back to teachers, she says. At another school she "turned the page," spent a summer as missionary in Hong Kong and China, and then returned to complete her senior year.

She enrolled in a Tulsa-area Bible college, earned a certificate of completion after a year, and returned home to Dubuque, Iowa, to help care for her stepfather, diagnosed with cancer. Further challenges awaited. She broke off an engagement. Her stepfather and grandparents died within the same year. She battled depression. Her ex-fiance was killed in a drunken driving accident. During it all, Wainwright took community college classes when she could.

In fall 2002 she came to Cornell, joining her cousin, Chet Knake '03. A year later she met Jeremy Wainwright and both enrolled at Loras. They married, she became a stepmother to Noah, 2, and then got pregnant with Elise. She returned to Cornell, married, five months pregnant, and commuting from Dubuque. Last fall she took an additional class at Clarke College--"I was determind to graduate the following spring," she says.

When Noah goes to college she wants to enroll in law school--she was vice president of Cornells pre-law chapter of Phi Alpha Delta--and someday run for federal office on a platform of educational reform. For now, she'll pursue a teaching position and help her husband run a bed and breakfast in their historic Dubuque home.

"Keisha possesses a seriousness and passion for life and for teaching that is rare. And on top of that, she is very bright," says assistant professor of education Stephanie Mackler.

Ahead of his time

Ben Lewis '06 earned his degree in biochemistry and molecular biology and computer science. As is typical in his field, he'll continue on to graduate school. Probably in a year. After he's 18.

Lewis, 16, was the youngest of Cornell's 248 graduates. He earned a B.A. in three years because he came to Cornell with general education credits transferred from a community college, where he earned an associate's degree at age 13. His parents and younger sister moved to Mount Vernon from Stephen City, Va., so Lewis could live in the family's home while attending Cornell.

"I still thought of him as a high school student," says his mother, Lyn, who attended Cornell from 1979 to 1981. "When he goes on to graduate school that's his time to choose his school, to live on campus."

In the next year Lewis hopes to take courses at the University of Iowa, maybe in languages or other areas outside his majors. His family plans to stay in Mount Vernon because they enjoy the community, the schools for their daughter, and their Cedar Rapids church where Lewis has been active in a confirmation group. Extended family is close by in Illinois.

Lewis wants to pursue bioinformatics, applying technology to solve biological problems.

"My age didn't turn out to be much of an issue," he says of his time at Cornell. "I was treated like just another student."


Biology professor Craig Tepper is the first recipient of the Ringer Distinguished Fellowship.

Tepper named 1st Ringer Professor

Biology professor Craig Tepper has been named the first recipient of the Ringer Distinguised Professorship, established last fall with a $1.5 million gift from Jerry Ringer '59 and honorary alumna Carole Ringer. The professorship honors Tepper for exemplary teaching and scholarship, and for deep committment to college and community service. He has been on the faculty since 1989.

"Craig is dedicated to involving students in research, and he brings a contagious enthusiasm to the learning environment, whether in a West Science lab or at a research center in the Bahamas," President Les Garner said.

The three-year appointment, which begins in fall 2007, comes with funds that will allow Tepper to offer an annual Ringer Student Research Fellowship and also finance molecular supplies for student-faculty research. He also plans to travel to San Salvador, Bahamas, with colleague Bob Black to initiate coral transplantation experiments at their coral reef study site.

This is Cornell's third endowed faculty position; the others are the Richard and Norma Small Senior Faculty Chair (established in 1995) and the Sherman ad Vera Shaffer Endowed Chair of Chemistry (established in 2000).

Jerry Ringer, a retired ophthalmologist in Bloomington, Ill., was a member of Cornell's Board of Trustees (1980-89, 1990-2002) and served as chair from 1999 to 2002. Carole Ringer holds a master's degree in music from Northwestern University.

New residence hall launches campus master plan

Ground will be broken this fall for a suite-style residence hall near Pauley-Rorem Hall, part of the first phase of a long-range campus master plan. Other capital projects in the first phase are a Pfeiffer Hall renovation, addition to the library, addition and renovation to West Science Center, and corrective maintenance to King Chapel.

The new residence hall is expected to open for approximately 100 students in fall 2007. The remaining Phase 1 projects on the Hilltop are planned to take place over the next eight years.

Immediate summer improvements are renovations to the exterior of Pfeiffer and renovations to the Commons dining areas, including new furniture, lighting, and carpet, the removal of some walls from the scramble area, and new colors in the dining rooms.

Ryan Taugher '06
and Laura Erceg '06 recieved Fulbright grants this year.

Where do they go from here?

Nearly one-fifth (18 percent) of Comell's 2006 graduates will continue their education at graduate or profesional schools, according to a survey by the Career Services Office. Another 65 percent have landed jobs or are pursuing them. The remaining graduates plan to volunteer, travel, seek a second undergraduate degree, or their plans are unknown.

Ryan Taugher (BA, international relations) and Laura Erceg (BA., Russian, sociology) were awarded Fulbright grants, the 18th and
19th Cornellians to receive Fulbrights since 1956. Taugher will spend nine months in Turkey studying and researching the international impact of controlling the region's water resources; Erceg will spend 10 months in Russia, hosted by the psychology and social sciences department at Far Eastern State University in Vladivostok.

Three graduates are headed to the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine: Phil Bilderback (B.A., biochemistry and molecular biology), Mara Cardon (B.A. biochemistry and molecular biology), and Lisa Fettkether (B.A. biochemistry and molecular biology, secondary education).

Others will pursue advanced degrees in a variety of disciplines. Among those going to law school are Alyssa Johnston (B.A., psychology, biochemistry and molecular biolody) to the New England School of Law, Martha Whalen (B.A., international relations) to the University of Iowa, and Steve Wieland (B.A., politcs, sociology) to the College of William and Mary. From the department of theater and communications studies, Joel Furmanek (B.S.S., theatre) and Kris Longley-Postema (B.S.S., theatre) are headed to Yale University School of Drama, and Shelby Newport (B.S.S., theatre, art) will study costume design at Purdue University.

The positions of those with jobs include research assistant, teacher, software engineer, personal trainer, youth counselor, and Cornell admission counselor--Brandon Brinson (B.A., international relations, religion) in Mount Vernon and Marie Schutte (B.A., business communications, psychology) as the Chicago regional representative.


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