Thursday, December 27, 2012

YaleWomen Conference -- Check it Out!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

Growing up, my parents had a group of friends whose families were woven into the life of our family -- these families would join us for holidays, meet at parades, hang out during the summers, and come to parties.  I learned eventually that this group, and an even wider circle of friends, were my Dad's college friends.  So, when I went out East to college, one of my expectations was that I would graduate with a degree, some knowledge and with a group of life-long friends.    That was, after all, just how I thought the world worked.

This year has been a tough year for my Dad's group of friends -- in the last few months, we have lost Uncle Hugh, Uncle Clay and another Uncle Bob.  Each loss has meant another trip to old pictures from my childhood (and our wedding, where they all gathered) and a little reflection on just how remarkable having a group of friends like this is.  As I have aged, I have come to know just how rare and special the close bonds that our families had; they are really something to be cherished.

I think about my Dad's group of friends one more time today, as we prepare for Christmas Eve.  My Dad will be here, along with my sister and her husband.  And, the Sarkozi family will be here, too.  One of my Morse suitemates and his family will join us around the table, around the piano and around the fire to celebrate another year together.  We will cherish that bond all the more as we remember our classmate, Siobhan, and our friends scattered around the world.

As you celebrate the holidays and usher in the New Year, please think about those from our class who have meant something important to you.  Give them call.  Shoot them an e-mail.  Even if you haven't spoken in a while, don't worry about it.  They would love to hear from you.  The bonds we forged together all those years ago still exist.

Happy Holidays and Joyous New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Siobhan Sharkey -- 1965-2012

It is with profound sadness that I announce the death of our classmate, Siobhan Sharkey.  I did not know Siobhan as well as many in our class, but I knew her well enough to know that she will be terribly missed.

Please pass this note on to other classmates who might not hear the news, and please do share your fond memories of Siobahn.

Here is the notice from today's New York Times.

SHARKEY--Siobhan Sophia. July 3, 1965 - December 18, 2012. Beloved daughter, sister and aunt. Founder of Health Management Strategies, Inc. M.B.A., Wharton 1991; B.A., Yale 1987. Survived by her parents, Robert and Phoebe; siblings, Edward, Catherine and James, sisters-in-law, Jennifer and Ina; nieces, Anne, Elizabeth and Phoebe, and nephews, Frederick and Caleb. Throughout her life and to the end of her heroic battle against cancer, Siobhan uplifted us with her vibrancy, optimism, and compassion. We miss her dearly. A Memorial Mass will be held at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore, MD on Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 10am.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Holidays With/Without God

Check out this interesting discussion about the holidays, featuring Bruce Feiler.

When to Talk About ‘It’

We can barely get it together to celebrate one holiday in our house, KJ. I'm impressed you can celebrate two! As you know, I’m not in an interfaith marriage. I’m a Jew married to a Jew; our daughters went to Jewish preschool. We light the candles every night; discuss the story and sing some songs; then hide presents for the kids. We try to have non-Jews over as often as possible, because it keeps everybody on their toes; it’s more fun; and it encourages a fresh take on the tradition. That’s one of reason I’m all for interfaith marriages, as contradictory as that may seem. They’re living laboratories of coexistence that model behavior the rest of us are still trying to figure out. It's no wonder 40 percent of Americans are in one.
Why do adults squirm when religion is discussed?
So to be clear: What troubles me about the holidays is not unique to interfaith families; many single faith families share it as well. It's the idea that since parents are uncomfortable talking about religion, spirituality and God, we leave it out of the holiday all together. Why sully the fun! Sure, maybe the moment of gift giving is not the best time to have these conversations. The kids would likely tune you out anyway. And recounting the sanitized version of Hanukkah or the one about Mary, Joseph and the manger is not what I'm talking about.
We had an interesting moment on the first night of Hanukkah. After we talked through the story, I asked, “What role did God play?” The three 7-year-olds all raised their hands to respond; the only person to squirm was my wife. To me, that captures it. Kids are curious, engaged, opinionated; we’re the ones bringing all the baggage. The holidays bring together family, emotion, history, all things vital to exploring the biggest questions in life. That’s exactly the moment to talk about faith. Just because you have a problem with religion (and who doesn't!), why take it out on God? So here's my question: Would it work if you left God out of the gifts but found time to ask your kids what questions they have on the topic at this time of year?
Click here for the whole NYT piece.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Yale Alumni Service Corps 2013 Trip to Ghana


Yale Alumni Service Corps

Invites you to join us to serve in Yamoransa,
Ghana, Africa
August 1-11th, 2013

The Yale Alumni Service Corps invites you to join us on a truly inspiring service opportunity as we travel abroad to “give back.” From August 1 to 11 we return to see our friends in Yamoransa, Ghana, to serve this impoverished village and continue the great work begun last year. 
Nana (Chief) Akwa II, village elder and leader of the community, has asked us to return so that we might, in his words, “again provide hope, inspiration, and motivation.” 
We are grateful to be able to make a real difference. Last summer more than 150 alumni, family, and friends participated in this life changing service project. We need YOU for:
  • Education and Arts: Teachers willing to share their interests and skills – music, drama, crafts, hobbies, as well as traditional subjects ‑ with primary and middle school Ghanaian children who never have the chance to learn anything beyond reading, writing and math. Whatever you want to teach, they want to learn!
  • Medical Care: Doctors, nurses, PAs and interested lay people for this village with no clinic and in need of primary care and screening services.
  • Business Development: Consultants to work with local micro-business owners – bakers, seamstresses, hairdressers, kenkey makers, and others ‑ to develop and grow their businesses and get more organized.
  • Construction: Builders to help complete the community center, for which we laid the foundation last year.
  • Public Health: Volunteers to conduct health education and awareness classes including aids prevention, insurance registration, sanitary and medical care guidance.
  • College Mentoring: Mentors ‑ women especially ‑ to coach and counsel Ghanaian high school girls, to inspire and motivate them to apply to college.
  • Sports: Athletes for coaching sports and organizing clinics.
If you want to serve, we will find a volunteer opportunity for you.
Alumni – and their friends and family ­ from all classes, graduate and professional schools are welcome.
And there is no better gift you can give your children – ages 10 and older ‑ than working side by side with them to serve others. Last year more than 30 children were part of our service corps. They – and you – will learn on so many levels. This is a wonderful experience for families and individuals to change lives, including your own!
While serving this village and its gracious and welcoming people you will experience Ghanaian culture beyond what any tourist would experience.
We have limited accommodations for this adventure so please sign up soon! The cost is $2,250 exclusive of airfare to/from Accra. For more information, please visit us here or click here to register. First come, first served registration closes February 28th.

Carl Zimmer Wins Science Journalism Award

From the Yale Daily News:

English lecturer Carl Zimmer ’87 has been awarded one of the 2012 Kavli Science Journalism Awards, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) announced this week.

Zimmer was honored in the large newspaper category for three articles he wrote for The New York Times. When he receives his prize of $3,000 and a plaque at the AAAS annual meeting in Boston next February, he will join an elite group of the roughly 300 writers who have been recognized since the award’s launch in 1945.

“I was thrilled to win — it’s one of the highest awards a science writer can get,” Zimmer told the News. “The articles that won the awards were three of my stories written for The New York Times – one story was about all the bacteria that live inside of our bodies and that we depend on for our well-being, one was about the evolution of life around [New York City], and the other was about the crisis that science is in right now. Scientists are increasingly cutting corners, and I looked at some explanations for why that is the case.”

Described by The New York Times Book Review as “as fine a science essayist as we have,” Zimmer teaches students how to write about science and the environment at Yale. He has published 12 books about science and contributed to magazines including National Geographic, Time, Scientific American, Science and Popular Science. His 2004 book, “Soul Made Flesh,” investigates the discovery of the role of the human brain and was named one of the top 100 books of the year by The New York Times Book Review.

Zimmer has previously won AASA science journalism awards for the large newspaper category in 2009 and in the online category in 2004.

Inspirational Yale Lacrosse Story

On lacrosse field, inner city kids dream big

A nonprofit connecting middle school kids with lacrosse coaches at elite universities, not only teaches them the game, but also the value of a good education. NBC's Ron Mott reports.
By Andrew Hongo, NBC News
HARTFORD, Conn. -- On the bright green lacrosse fields of Trinity College, dozens of middle-school players ran back and forth clutching shiny, new lacrosse sticks. Their parents cheered for goals from the sidelines, and groaned at near-misses. Against a backdrop of blue skies and falling leaves, it made for an idyllic New England scene. 
But this was no prep school lacrosse league; it was the inaugural scrimmage for Inner City Lacrosse (ICL), a non-profit that brings volunteer coaches from Yale and Trinity’s lacrosse teams together with more than 50 boys and girls from New Haven and Hartford, almost all from public schools that don’t offer the sport. 
“Scoring a goal in lacrosse is exciting,” said ICL program founder Michael Gary, who grew up in New Haven’s projects. “But scoring well on an exam is most important and equally exciting. I hope they can understand the importance of doing well academically in the classroom.”
During their seven weekly practices, kids learn more than just lacrosse basics; Gary hopes bonds with student athletes from elite colleges will encourage the young players to pursue academic excellence of their own.
Kobi Spence, 11, who’s been in attendance since week one, got the message. Bright and ambitious, she said that not only does she want to go to Yale like her coaches, she also wants to become a successful lawyer, president of the United States, a forensic scientist—or some combination thereof.
When asked to describe her coach, 18-year-old Yale varsity midfielder Nicole Daniggelis, Kobi struggled to find the right words. 

Kobi Spence, her mother and coaches at Inner City Lacrosse describe their passion for the sport, sense of accomplishment and commitment to teamwork.
“All I can say is, ‘Wow!’” said Kobi. “Not only is she an amazing lacrosse player, she’s also a really good friend.” 
Kobi added Daniggelis is “also very good at academics. I can tell because her vocabulary is extraordinary.”
From Daniggelis’ side, the admiration was mutual.
“Kobi is such a great kid,” said Daniggelis. She continued, “She just has such a great attitude, 100 percent focus all the time, and her enthusiasm is amazing. She brings the program up so much by her enthusiasm, getting all the other kids involved and wanting to play just as hard as her, like she does every play.”
An ‘elite’ sport becomes more diverse  
Though lacrosse has a reputation as an elite sport, the National Federation of State High School Associations says it’s been the fastest growing team sport in the nation over the past five years. 
Gary said one of the goals of ICL (which is free of charge) is to bring more diversity to a cost-prohibitive sport. (Basic gear—pads, sticks, pennies, gloves, and helmets for the boys—can cost hundreds of dollars; Gary arranged for the equipment to be donated to the program.)
“You don’t find it as readily in the inner city,” Gary said. “So giving these kids an opportunity to play the sport, hopefully, you will see more kids of color playing the sport of lacrosse.”

Michael Gary, the founder of Inner City Lacrosse, grew up with very little. He is now giving back, by giving kids a whole new field of dreams.
Gary himself was once a kid without much opportunity. He grew up the youngest of six to a single mom in the Ashman Street Projects -- just steps away from Yale University, in a neighborhood he described as “the section where they told the Yale students not to go.” 
But Gary’s world changed when at age 13, he began participating in the U.S. Grant Foundation, which gave him a chance to be mentored by Yale students. He learned about math, he learned about literature, and for the first time he learned about boarding schools.
“I was saying to myself, ‘Wow. If I can leave New Haven and be a part of that environment that will be absolutely remarkable,’” said Gary. 
He ended up attending boarding school at Pomfret and then college at Trinity. Gary ultimately chose academia as a career and has been an admissions officer for 23 years -- 10 of them at the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy, where he now serves as Director of Admissions.
More than a coach 
As Kobi chatted with her friends during their pre-game warm-ups, they displayed all the signs of hero worship. They talked about how tall coach Daniggelis is, how good at lacrosse she is, and at one point they even tried to imitate a trick Daniggelis does, where she bounces her lacrosse stick off the ground then catches it. Daniggelis was ever-patient, and always positive throughout the game: reminding the girls of the proper scooping technique, demonstrating how to cradle the ball and shoot, and at one point tying Kobi’s shoelaces when her gloves proved an impediment.
“To be a part of this program is really something special because it’s taught me how to give back to a community that I’m new to,” said Daniggelis. “And I find that really rewarding.” 
When the game-ending whistle blew -- no one seemed to care much about the final score. The girls huddled for one final cheer, then lined up in rows for a team picture with their coaches. Proud moms counted to three, capturing memories that would last them until next season. 
The large group disbanded, and Kobi and Nicole posed for a picture, just the two of them, arms around each other, Kobi in her black and white striped leggings holding a pink lacrosse stick, Daniggelis in a white knit sweater with a big, blue “Y” on the front.           
Gary stressed that the program, ultimately, isn’t only about athletics, or even academics. It’s about something more—something he experienced all those years ago as a little boy being tutored by Yale students.
“The attention I was getting and working with college students…it just made me feel really valued,” he said.
His wife, Trina Gary, who has been his ICL partner since day one, echoed the same sentiment when reflecting on the past season.
“I think everybody learns in these situations when they give of themselves and put themselves into situations to help others,” she said. “To realize that we all need help, we all need someone there. We all need someone to say, ‘I see you. You matter.’”