From the Editor: Dreaming Big

photo of managing editor Himeka (Imee) CurielAs I sit down to write this, we have just celebrated the turn of another year. Welcome 2024! Of course, with the new year comes the requisite looks back on the year past along with resolutions and goals for the year ahead. I see the word “consequential” coming up a lot when summing up the tumultuous events of 2023—from the end of affirmative action to disturbing violence in the Middle East. At times like this, when everything seems so consequential, it’s easy to feel disheartened. That’s when putting together an issue of the magazine can be its own sort of balm. Researching, writing, and reading stories about everyday people (our peers, classmates, friends) who have followed their passions and found fulfillment and a sense of purpose on the other end, it’s hard not to be uplifted and reassured with the knowledge that there is good out there.

In this issue, you’ll meet Alison Criscitiello ’03, National Geographic Explorer, director of the University of Alberta’s Ice Core Lab, climbing enthusiast, recipient of MIT’s first-ever PhD in glaciology, and all-around “cool” person. Criscitiello has taken her passion for the outdoors to some of the most challenging environments, not just for the joy of the adventure but also for the sake of our future, scaling glaciers to learn about our climate past in order to inform our environmental future. You’ll also hear about new directions in the Center for Prison Education, where incarcerated learners are gaining access to a liberal arts education and finding a space where exploring the unlimited potential of their intellect and imagination lays the foundation for more opportunities after their sentences are served.

On campus, the launch of the College of Design and Engineering Studies (CoDES) builds on the foundation of the IDEAS (Integrated Design, Engineering, Arts & Society) major, helping students learn how to  fail (and fail again) through hands-on projects and iterative learning in the service of being bold, innovative, and ultimately driving progress. And don’t miss the oral history of Black Raspberry. Student-organized, student-run, and 100% fueled by student resourcefulness, this all-Black arts collective was founded on a shared joy and passion for music but has grown to encapsulate a community of creatives that is not only invested in each other, but in a legacy of nurturing and showcasing unique Black identities and individual expression.

These stories are a good reminder of what can be accomplished when people go all-in on dreaming big and staying true to themselves. It’s also a reminder that we, as a university, need to uphold our mission to provide unparalleled growth opportunities to our community and to continue being a place that our alumni can be proud to call alma mater. We are dreaming big as well.

As many of you know by now (it was the subject of our Fall digital issue released this past November), we recently embarked on an ambitious fundraising initiative. The biggest in our history. The three main goals of this initiative—“This Is Not a Campaign. This Is Wesleyan”—are firmly rooted in our commitment to providing a uniquely Wesleyan experience for our entire community. That means increasing financial aid and support structures aimed at attracting students from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and social strata (Accessing Possibilities). It means providing enhanced academic and research opportunities for our students and faculty with the most advanced tools and resources in environments that are energy-efficient and designed to inspire collaboration and creativity (Launching Possibilities). And perhaps most important, offering practical pipelines for turning ideas into action through our interdisciplinary centers and stronger, more connected networks of Wesleyans on-campus and throughout the world (Activating Possibilities).

These goals are ambitious, we know. They have to be, because that’s what it takes to create the future we need and to keep up with the undeniable passion and ambition of our students, faculty, and alumni. Throughout this issue and in future issues, look for the blue, green, and red squares that signal stories of these commitments in action. As we head into the unknown of 2024 and the start of the spring semester at Wesleyan, we hope these stories will help reaffirm the invaluable experience and impact that these commitments make possible. I hope we all go forward with a renewed sense of purpose, the inspiration to dream big, and a good dose of optimism for the opportunities that lie ahead. 


Managing Editor, Wesleyan University Magazine