This Month at Illinois Wesleyan

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A few days ago we had a conversation with one of our graduating seniors who grew up outside of the United States. “Is college graduation a big deal in the U.S.?” he asked. “Everyone goes to college.”

We gently rebuked him. "No, not everyone goes to college, whether in the U.S. or outside its boundaries," we said, and so we hope you will pardon us when we devote a significant portion of this space to something we think is a very big deal: graduation from Illinois Wesleyan. It’s big for the third- or even fourth-generation Titans destined to wear green and white. It’s big for the student whose parents came to the United States dreaming of a better future for their beloved child, and who aspire to do something great — in part to honor those who never got the same chance. And it’s big for every senior who failed organic chemistry freshman year, for those graduating summa cum laude, and for every young adult who juggled the rigors of IWU with parenting or working two jobs.

Of course, Commencement is not the only notable thing that happens here in May, and we share some of this month’s other highlights — on the athletic field, in the classroom, and far beyond the Quad. Forgive us, though, if we focus on graduation as a very big deal indeed.

Street Art London

Traveling in London for the May Term travel course “The Greening of Great Britain,” Jacki Schirmacher ’18 snapped this striking photo of street art in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The French artist, Manyoly, is a young, self-taught painter who expresses her ideas by portraying women’s faces with powerful colors. Schirmacher shared this photo through the May Term 2017 Photo Contest with the hashtag "Women's Power, Women's Justice." While in Wales, Schirmacher noted students stayed in “eco-cabins” as a way of measuring the group’s ecological footprint. “Our society needs to stop thinking that we have to make these major life changes or have these groundbreaking discoveries to have a positive impact on the environment,” she said. “Simple, everyday changes can add up to make a bigger difference than we realize. We just have to be willing to make those changes.” (Photo by Jacki Schirmacher ’18)


In the second round of the NCAA Division III championship match, Grainne Kelly ’19 led the women’s lacrosse team with five caused turnovers and tied for the team lead in goals against Rhodes College. Despite a late rally, the Titans fell to Rhodes, 16-10. Illinois Wesleyan advanced to postseason play for the first time in program history and finished with a 14-6 record. (Photo courtesy of Rhodes College)

Keith Carter

Seconds after receiving the Caroline F. Rupert Nursing Award saluting outstanding work during his four years of study in nursing, Keith Carter ’17 acknowledges another recipient of Commencement Honors. Carter plans to work as a child psychiatry nurse at Rush University Medical Center’s Rush Day School. (Photo by Robert Frank III ’14)

Kenny TranKenny Tran ’17 makes a toast during Senior Dinner on May 3. Several members of the class spoke during the annual event, which is sponsored by the Office of Alumni Engagement. (Photo by Marc Featherly)

Max Porter

Max Porter ’17 (far left) and Zack Ladd ’19 play defense against an Aurora attacker during the Titans’ rain-soaked, second-round game at Aurora University. That win was the first-ever for a College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin team in NCAA postseason play and advanced Illinois Wesleyan to the third round, where the Titans lost to Denison University on May 13, ending the season with a program-best 16-4 record. (Photo by Steve Woltmann)

Stella and Sikora

New graduate Stella Wang ’17 chats with Professor of Sociology Jim Sikora, who is retiring this year after more than 35 years of service to IWU. Wang majored in sociology and plans to take a gap year before she enters graduate school. (Photo by Marc Featherly)

Athens by Halley

Students enrolled in May Term courses are invited to submit photos to the May Term 2017 Photo Contest, which will feature winners in three categories: travel, local and the IWU annual theme: women’s power, women’s justice. As a student on the travel course “The Art and Archaeology of Greek Myth,” business administration major Halley Shanley ’18 shared this beauty of a Roman theatre overlooking Athens. Shanley said the course allowed her to “put the information we’ve been studying from our readings into context at the various archaeological sites and museums and learning on site…The entire trip has been such a rewarding experience and something I will cherish forever.” (Photo by Halley Shanley ’18)

Austin WagnerDonning his best eyewear, Austin Wagner ’17 is congratulated by President Eric Jensen during Commencement on May 7. A native of Elmhurst, Ill., Wagner majored in business administration and played wide receiver for the Titan football team. (Photo by Marc Featherly)

Jordan Koehler

Jordan Koehler ’19 lines up a putt during the first day of the NCAA Division III Championships at Houston’s Bay Oaks Country Club. The women’s golf team finished 15th in the four-day tournament. Koehler was also Illinois Wesleyan’s low scorer. (Photo by Erik Williams)


Anna Kerr-Carpenter ’17 cheers for herself, her classmates and the excitement of ending one journey and beginning another. More than 400 graduates received their degrees on a nearly perfect Commencement day. (Photo by Marc Featherly)

Molly McGraw

With a top jump of 5 feet-7 inches, Molly McGraw ’18 tied for fourth place in the high jump at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships. McGraw, who won the high jump in the 2016 Outdoor Championships, and teammates Amelia Glueck ’18, Liz Oltman ’17, Maddison Zimmer ’17, Jamie Gradishar ’17 and Karly Goodman ’18 represented Illinois Wesleyan in the 2017 national contest. (Photo by


First-year coach Tiffany Prager (far left) celebrates with the softball team after Illinois Wesleyan shut out St. Catherine 7-0 in the first round of the NCAA Softball National Championship. In the second straight year the Titans played in the national tournament, IWU lost to eventual national champion Virginia Wesleyan College. (Photo by Joshua Gateley)

Nivedha Poondi

Biology major Nivedha Poondi ’18 uses histological techniques to stain certain parts of the embryos of the zebrafish Danio rerio. Poondi was a student in Assistant Professor of Biology Brian Walter’s May Term course “Experimental Embryology.” Poondi said once she and her classmates finished staining, they observed the slides under the microscope, where intestinal cells and their nuclei were clearly visible. (Photo by Marc Featherly)

Karly Goodman

Karly Goodman ’18 throws in the 2017 Division III Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Although she finished 20th in shot put in the national meet, Goodman had a stellar season, including a school record shot put of 44 feet-10 3/4 inches during a qualifying meet on May 18 and winning four events at the DePauw Outdoor Invitational in April. (Photo by

Makenna Merritt

In homage to IWU’s favorite mammal, art major Makenna Merritt ’17 designed her mortarboard to include a plush squirrel holding a walnut. Merritt completed her design with the whimsical declaration: “I start my journey today and I walnut fail.” (Photo by Robert Frank III ’14)  


With this lecture hall, how can you not engage your fellow students? Classmates listen as Madison Karabinus ’18 (standing) discusses the famed marble Metope panels adorning the outer walls of the Parthenon during the May Term travel course “The Art and Archaeology of Greek Myth.” Faculty members Nancy Sultan and Amy Coles led students to ancient Greek sites including Athens, Crete, Delphi, Eleusis and Peloponnese. (Photo courtesy of Professor of Greek and Roman Studies Nancy Sultan)


A loved one captures the joy of graduation for Tess Wisher ’17 and her friends. Wisher received the John L. Clark Award in Literary Studies honoring outstanding academic performance through scholarly activity and participation in the creative work of the School of Theatre Arts. (Photo by Robert Frank III ’14)

Cinderella Group

Members of the 300-level “Properties for the Theatre” class put their puppets through their paces during a dress rehearsal near the conclusion of the spring semester. The 12 students enrolled in the course combined talents to create the puppets, the puppet theatre, all the scenery, and all the properties for the musical Cinderella. “We took off a very big bite,” admitted Professor of Theatre Arts Curtis Trout. “I had never tried to stage a production as a result of this craft-oriented making class.” Puppeteers included (from left): Cami Tokowitz ’19, Olivia Sarkis ’19, Tuxford Turner ’19, Ilyssa Kosova ’19, and Dominic Gambaiani ’19. More than 125 people attended an open final presentation. (Photo by Marc Featherly)  

Nate Wilkins

Nate Wilkins ’17 was one of several legacy students receiving degrees on May 7. He’s pictured with his mother Lois (Bright) ’75 and father David ’74, who did double duty at Commencement speaking to the graduates and their loved ones as the representative of the University’s Board of Trustees. (Photo by Marc Featherly)

Entrepreneurship to Chicago

Students enrolled in the May Term course “Marketing Seminar: Entrepreneurship” visited eight business sites, including the law offices of McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff, during a three-day trip to Chicago. Other sites included Google Chicago, Fruition Partners, CannonDesign, mHUB and other locations where students heard presentations from more than 20 alumni entrepreneurs and senior leaders at their companies. (Photo courtesy of Coordinator of Entrepreneurial Activities Tara Gerstner ’01)

Men's Golf

The men’s golf team poses for quick photo at the NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championships, held this year at Mission Inn Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida. The Titans finished ninth of 18 teams and Drew Pershing’s final-day 67 tied for lowest round of the tournament. Conner O’Neil ’18 finished tied for 18th place, and was chosen to the first team PING All-America for Division III by the Golf Coaches Association of America. (Photo courtesy of Head Coach Jim Ott ’91)

Commencement Overview

Mother Nature delivered a gorgeous day for the University’s Commencement on May 7. (Photo by Robert Frank III ’14)