I Am Drew

10 undergraduates you simply must meet.

Four Years. That’s how long most students spend on campus, but it’s fleeting, evanescent, over far too soon. One day they’re in Drew hoodies and ripped jeans. The next, they’ve got résumés, suits, med school interviews or the LSATs. Drew Magazine wants to slow things down and introduce you to a handful of stellar students recommended by those who know them best, the faculty in the College of Liberal Arts. Consider this a crash course in the Drew of 2010. But don’t rush—the sheer potential in these pages will astonish you.

Interviews & videos by Jenny Deller
Photography by Alessandra Petlin

Thérèse Postel

Year: Senior
Major: Political science
Minor: Arabic
Hometown: Queens, N.Y.
Accolade: Julius J. Mastro Scholarship

You went to Morocco last spring to study Arabic?
Our host family was in a city called Tamar. It’s an up-and-coming suburb of Rabat. We’d walk through a herd of sheep to get to the bus. It was just surreal.

If you could hold a think-tank for achieving peace in the Middle East, who would you invite?
I think it’s important to include Middle Eastern countries and their heads of state. From our country, Colin Powell. And then I like Madeleine Albright, and probably George Mitchell.

You did an internship at the U.N. Do you see yourself working there someday?
I feel I could have more influence telling people in our country that we have to respect the U.N. than I could working at the U.N.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I can’t see myself doing anything but international relations because I really don’t enjoy anything else. Hopefully, I’ll be in a position to start affecting our policies.

Watch a video about Therese.

bradmBrad Mendelson

Year: Senior
Major: Economics
Minor: Political science
Hometown: Baltimore
Lacrosse position: Goalie

What’s it been like to study econ during one of the largest financial crashes in history?
I think it will really shape how [econ students] think about the market. I think people coming out now are probably less likely to want to have an unregulated market.

Are you a numbers guy or a theory guy?

What’s your favorite “ism”?
Probably capitalism.

What’s your dream job?
To run Bill Gates’ foundation.

So your goal is not to make millions?
I don’t think money’s my ultimate goal, but if I happen into [some] along the way, I’m sure there’s some cool stuff I could do.

adijatmAdijat Mustapha

Year: Junior
Majors: Psychology, French
Hometown: Orange, N.J.
Accolade: Cleon H. and Elsie Fisher Scholarship, Kathryn D. Stanley Scholarship

How did you discover psychology?
In my senior year of high school I took a psychology class, and thought, “Oh, my gosh, this is me!” It just fit because I am the nosiest person you’ll ever find. I’m always curious about what makes people tick. And I love helping people. I have a bit of a hero complex.

You want to get your Ph.D.in psychology. Do you know what area of research?
Autistic children and sexually abused women and children.

What did you learn volunteering with the Jersey Battered Women’s Service?
How dating abuse starts so very early. It used to be a grown-ups’ problem, but now it affects girls as soon as they even get interested in boys. It’s a scary reality. I had initially dismissed the idea of working in my future clinical practice with middle-school-aged patients, but this project helped me see that they may actually be the best target group to nip these issues in the bud.

One of your heroes:
Eleanor Roosevelt. One of my all-time favorite quotes is by her: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

andybAndy Benavides

Year: Senior
Major: Economics
Minor: Theatre arts
Hometown: West New York, N.J.
Accolade: Grohowski Family Scholarship

Your dream is to be a principal. Did you like school as a kid?
I loved going to school, but I was a brat. My teachers were white, and it was hard for me to relate to them in terms of achievement, so I just kind of fell through the cracks. But then I came to realize that I do have some gifts that I could help give back.

Explain going from having no desire to apply to college to majoring in economics.
I knew if I was going to make such a commitment, I better make some bank when I get out. Math is probably my strongest subject ever.

What was the origin of Killing Time, your play about two drug dealers on a stoop?
I always loved Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. I’m a really introspective person, so in my spare time I think about life and purpose and choice. I wanted to parallel that to how absurd I find hoodlums to be.

Rumor has it all of Drew Rugby was there for the performance.
These three white theater majors were playing my Hispanic characters, and everybody went wild. The rugby players loved the play because to them it was their Andy. It was their rugby captain.

Yang Yang

Year: Junior
Majors: Biochemistry and
Hometown: Tenafly, N.J.
Known for: Her work with Habitat for Humanity

What are you studying these days?
Endocrinology, calculus-based physics, biomedical ethics and systems neuro­biology. And I’m studying for the MCATs. It’s like the SAT all over again, but worse.

Any surprises during your emergency room internship?
My mom [a nurse] told me that the residents were going to be grouchy because they’re so tired all the time. I was really surprised when one resident took me aside. He would show me a patient’s case and say, “These are the symptoms, this is what I think.” I got a glimpse of everything that went on in his head.

Research or practice?
I did research last summer on Alzheimer’s disease. I found out that I need instant gratification instead of waiting three weeks for an experiment to run and then finding out it doesn’t work. I benefit more if I work directly with people.

You have a double identity:
In kindergarten all the kids would make fun of my name. One day I got so upset, I told my mom I wanted to change my name, so I became Carolyn. But in high school I changed back, thinking, “Well, if I met a girl named Yang Yang, I’d never forget her.”

Watch a video about Yang.

lloydrLloyd Robotham

Year: Junior
Majors: Psychology, sociology
Hometown: Trenton, N.J.
Accolade: Cleon H. and Elsie Fisher Scholarship

You’re the hunger and homelessness liaison for Drew’s Volunteer Resource Center. Why do you volunteer?
I’ve never really thought about “why.” It’s more like “why not?”

Do you want to go into clinical psychology?
Yes, but I want to focus on family or group therapy. I think any problem you find in our country today can be traced back to fundamental problems in the home.

Tell us about your mathematical talents.
I’m a statistics tutor. A lot of people in my major hate statistics. I was just able to understand it for what­ever reason.

Who is your oldest friend?
A person I consider my big brother; his name is Gary Mullings. He’s always been there for me. No matter what, I could go to him with it. It’s just so good to have somebody like that in my life.

Vincent Costa

Year: Senior
Major: Biochemistry/pre-med
Hometown: Stony Point, N.Y.
Known for: Being captain of the men’s soccer team

I hear you’re a pyromaniac.
For my honors thesis, we’re studying the smoke that comes off forest fires and the burning of fossil fuels. So I make fire in the lab. There’s definitely a public health concern.

Grey’s Anatomy or Scrubs?
Scrubs. It’s not as dramatic as Grey’s Anatomy.

What are people’s misconceptions about doctors?
For one patient there can be 10 doctors all with different specialties trying to work together to come to a consensus on what they should do. It’s not so cut and dry.

How was taking the soccer team to Italy?
It was one of the best experiences I’ve had at Drew. We took a tour of northern Italy, and at various cities we would stop and play a game at night against some club team. It’s crazy—they’re yelling at you, and you’re yelling at them, and nobody knows what anyone’s saying, but it’s still soccer.

Katharine Overgaard

Year: Senior
Majors: Art, Art history
Minor: Arts administration
Hometown: Erving, Mass.
Accolade: Martyvonne Dehoney Scholarship

Tell me about your semester in Florence.
I lived a block away from the Duomo and woke up to the sound of the bells in the Campanile ringing.

You’re also a photographer.
It made for a really great way to explore Florence because I was forced to get out of my studio. The project I ended up producing—I like to call it an autobiographical study—used abstract images of my surroundings.

What’s the best meal you ate in Italy?
Probably ones I cooked myself. I didn’t have a lot of money, so I wasn’t going out very much. I ate a lot of lentils.

A period in art history you’d like to visit:
I’d either go back to the 1940s and ’50s and observe the New York School, or I would love to watch Jean-Michel Basquiat paint.

Laquan Austion

Year: Senior
Major: Political science
Minor: Philosophy
Hometown: Bridgewater, N.J.
Accolade: Four-year Thomas H. Kean Minority Scholarship, Charles and Lillian Rosenthal Scholarship

What draws you to politics? Glamour? Controversy? Bow ties?
I’d definitely say controversy. Politics also has the ability to change or convince people. That’s really what drives me.

Pundits you love:
I do love some extremists. Rove, of course.

You’re graduating this year. What’s your plan?
Law school first. Then I want to practice law. And then really get involved with my political career. I want to start local because that’s where change happens first.

World leader you’d most like to eat lunch with:
Eisenhower. I find his political views so different. Even to this day, mainstream society can’t accept them for what they were at the time.

If you could change anything about the world:
I would change the educational experience for everyone. It’s so limited. I don’t think it’s broad enough. It really kills me.

If politics doesn’t work out, what’s your other dream career?
I’d be a police officer.

Watch a video about Laquan.

Kathleen Burke

Year: Sophomore
Major: Theatre arts
Minor: Creative writing
Hometown: Oakland, Calif.

Drew’s Robert Fisher Oxnam Ensemble Studio Theatre Award in Playwriting

Why do you love theater?
Because I get to experience it with everybody. It’s a community art.

Do your plays have a particular style?
I’ve been told the language is like a character.

You’re a devout Catholic. Would you consider your plays evangelistic?
No. But they all have something to do with someone struggling with God or working through a relationship with God. I want to write plays for people who feel like they don’t have a place in the church.

Broadway or Fringe?
Whichever will take me.

Who is the writer who’s affected you most?
Chekhov. Because he’s not old.The language might sound it … but it’s so beautiful.

How has having cystic fibrosis informed who you are?
I feel like it grew me up really quick. You know in Harry Potter when Harry is the only one who can say Voldemort’s name? I feel like that sometimes. Like I’m the only one who can talk about death and not be afraid because I know what it looks like, I guess. I remember when I was 15, and the average life expectancy was 32, and I was like, “No way is this my midlife crisis. This is ridiculous.” And that’s when I wrote my first play.

A Drew’s Who’s Who

We couldn’t stop—here are another dozen amazing students.

The former keeper of several Burmese pythons and a “disputably classified” Hog Island Boa, Clifford John Holland once thought he’d study herpetology but is pursuing philosophy and religious studies instead.

Cynthia Baldwin Haselton Scholarship recipient Bente Sterrett helped found Drew’s Model U.N. program.

Katherine LaClair, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and recipient of a Novartis scholarship, is doing her senior thesis on how mitochondria change during Alzheimer’s disease.

Business studies major Austin Davis’ dream is to start a zero-emissions, solar-thermal power plant in the Southwest, supplying electricity to upwards of 100,000 homes.

Thomas H. Kean Minority Scholarship recipient Sebastian Rivera hopes to become a pediatric urologist. He suffered double kidney failure at 11.

Catherine Magee, a double major in art history and classics, wants to conserve illuminated manuscripts.

Alexis Doyle, recipient of the John D. Bosworth Scholarship, is fascinated by how the economics of decision-making affect women.

A future public health policy wonk who wants to battle insurance companies, Steve Petro is writing a two-act opera.

Paula Anna Iwaniuk, a recipient of the McMinn-MacDonald Scholarship, is fluent in Polish and working on her Russian.

Kainat Abidi, English major and recipient of the Cynthia Baldwin Haselton Scholarship, would relocate to the Elizabethan period if she could.

The son of parents from Odessa, Ukraine, and Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Geoffrey Talis is double majoring in biology and Russian.

Poli sci major Afuah Amponsah ultimately hopes to enter politics in Ghana.

Jenny Deller is a freelance writer and filmmaker in Philadelphia.

3 Responses to “I Am Drew”

  1. Anonymous says:

    You can say the same thing for the other students you mentioned. And I quote, “Just because people say these things doesn’t mean its happening.”
    The students were nominated by faculty, they weren’t arbitrarily picked.

  2. What? says:

    What? How were these students picked? there are so many other students on campus, doing larger things write now. Just because people say these things doesn’t mean its happening. I know a kid who wants to open his own record company and writes, records, and produces records. I know another one who plans on moving to China and “rule” the economic/financial world. Where are the kids like them? Just because these kids aren’t in the spotlight doesn’t mean you just pick the ones who are. Do some research. Please. It makes some of the other students feel they aren’t “Drew” and that’s stupid.

  3. Kathleen Burke-you are my hero! Keep up the great works!!!

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