Mock trial team lays down the law at Cornell tourney

Woman dies during honeymoon diving vacation; body is never recovered. Husband sues company, alleging gross negligence. Case hinges on the biochemical complexities of nitrogen narcosis.

Plot treatment for a Bones or CSI episode? No, it’s the case for this year’s mock trial season, prepared by the American Mock Trial Association. And — spoiler alert! — it’s the case mastered by Hamilton’s mock trial team in winning first place at the recent Cornell University Big Red Invitational Tournament.

Building on their growth spurt in 2012, when they finished among the nation’s top 24 teams, the Hill’s young litigators surprised the field at the Cornell invitational, one of the most competitive mock trial meets in the Northeast. “This tournament was the best performance I’ve seen by this team yet,” said Emily Tompsett ’13, who co-captains the team with Maggie McGuire ’15. “We faced some interesting competition, and I’m proud of the way the team handled it.”

The “interesting competition” at Cornell included teams from Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, Cornell, Johns Hopkins and Rutgers. Despite a relative lack of experience after the graduation of former captain Tyler Roberts ’12, Hamilton knocked off the prestigious field by winning seven of eight favorable ballots. They have also posted strong top-five finishes in tournaments at Penn and Yale this season.

The verdict? Both team members and a running poll of AMTA competitors are convinced that Hamilton’s mock trial team again belongs among the nation’s best. After returning from a semester in Madrid and competing alongside the team’s new members, veteran attorney Jason Driscoll ’14 was especially impressed with their “effort and passion,” he said. “The team still carries the same strong spirit that it had at the end of last season.”

Peace Corps lists College among best

The global impact of a small liberal arts college can be calibrated in countless ways, but one sure measure of engagement and commitment to a better world is this one: Hamilton is among the nation’s top small colleges in the number of volunteers it sends into the Peace Corps.

The College is No. 18 on the Peace Corps’ 2013 list of schools with student bodies of fewer than 5,000, with 15 alumni currently serving overseas. And because this small-college category includes many student bodies more than twice the size of Hamilton’s, the College actually fares even better on a per-student basis: Hamilton ranks No. 7 among the nation’s top 25 small colleges when measured in this way.

Hamilton alumni now serve as volunteers in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ecuador, Guyana, Lesotho, Moldova, Mongolia, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. They work in areas including education, environment, health and community economic development. They are among more than 8,000 volunteers working with communities in 76 host countries.

“As a result of the top-notch education they receive, these graduates are well prepared for the challenge of international service,” Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet says of the nation’s Peace Corps volunteers. “They become leaders in their host communities and carry the spirit of service and leadership back with them when they return home.”

“What I cherish the most of my service here in Paraguay are its wonderful people and their hospitality, always treating me like I was part of their family,” says Hamilton’s Johanna Sanchez ’08, an education volunteer “They will all have a special place in my heart!”

Since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, a total of 234 alumni have served. For more on Hamiltonians in the Peace Corps, see “From the Hill to the World” in the Fall 2007 Alumni Review.

Interview Mojo: Get your rap down

The Maurice Horowitch Career Center kicked off its newest program to give graduating students an edge with the inaugural Interview Mojo workshop, as 117 juniors and seniors gathered in the Tolles Pavilion for a January panel discussion on interviewing skills — and then some actual interviews.

The panel was moderated by Trustee Amy Owens Goodfriend ’82, who discussed “Selling Yourself With Confidence.” Panelists included Brad Caswell ’74, P’13, Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program chief operations officer; Susan Mason, director of Hamilton’s Education Studies Program and Oral Communication Center; and Abby Taylor, associate director of employer relations at the Career Center.

Afterward, each student completed two mock interviews to receive feedback — 30-minute one-on-one meetings with a wide array of Hamilton employees, faculty and alumni as well as more than 40 professionals from the local community. The session wrapped up with small-group discussions on the finer points of interviewing.

“It was really helpful to hear from panelists with a strong base of experience,” said Susannah Parkin ’13, who was honing her skills in preparation for job interviews this spring. Liz Amster ’13 agreed, appreciating the opportunity to learn more about “the mindset of an interviewer” so that she could better approach interview situations.

Interview Mojo follows such recent Career Center initiatives as HamiltonExplore, a professional-shadowing program over winter break, and Sophomore Jumpstart, a workshop that helps second-year students identify and start to pursue potential career fields.

He gives love a good name

DownBeat Keys performingWhat goes with Times Square, a crisp December evening and a classic rock ’n’ roll show? You are correct — the arts and scholarships at Hamilton. The Hill was on the receiving end of what was certainly the hippest, hottest act of philanthropy in memory when rock singer, songwriter and superstar Jon Bon Jovi sold out Manhattan’s Best Buy Theater Dec. 5 for a concert to benefit student scholarships and the theatre and studio arts building now under construction on campus.

In what is believed to be the largest off-campus gathering of Hamiltonians in the College’s history, Bon Jovi and his band The Kings of Suburbia tore through a set of his own hits as well as covers of songs by everyone from the Beatles and Elvis to Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. And Bon Jovi — identified by Forbes magazine as the world’s most charitable celebrity in 2011 — needed to bring his “A” game, since he was following Hamilton’s own DownBeat Keys to the stage.

“All of us agree that we’ve never had more fun onstage before,” said Andrew Root ’09 of bandmates Kadahj Bennett ’12, Ryan Calabrese ’09, Anthony Mathieu ’12, Jared Schneider ’11 and Baldwin Tang ’10 after opening the show.

In the crowd, several generations of Hamiltonians — even those who hadn’t put on their boogie shoes for quite some time — made the most of every high-decibel minute. They didn’t have much choice; they were ordered out of their chairs by JBJ himself. “I know you paid extra for those seats, but stand up,” he told the throng. “I’m workin’ here!”

“It was great to see the Hamilton community rocking together,” said Rich Bernstein ’80. “It seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime event, and it was very cool to be a part of it.”

Going up! Follow builders on webcam

The new theatre and studio arts building under construction has taken on a distinctive shape with its steel foundation in place, and you can follow the real-time progress at www.hamilton.edu/webcams. On completion — scheduled for summer 2014 — the $46.8 million complex will encompass 81,000 square feet.

Highlights of the new theatre facility will include a fully equipped flexible 175-seat theatre and a smaller laboratory theatre that will be used for senior projects, class projects, guest artists and some public performances.

The new studio arts facility will feature common areas: large classrooms for a new foundations course and for drawing, and an exhibition space where students will share their work with the campus and community audience. Surrounding the core areas will be workshops, studios and support spaces for painting, printmaking, sculpture and other media.

A particular focus will be the interdisciplinary Studio for Trans-media Arts and Related Studies (STARS), where video artists will collaborate with others on a variety of interdisciplinary projects.

By the way, the College’s current webcams allow 24/7 viewing of three other campus scenes as well: the Chapel and environs as seen from the Bristol Center; the Kirner-Johnson Building’s atrium; and the stage in Wellin Hall

Wellin on video

Are you one of the thousands to visit the Ruth and Elmer Museum of Art since its October debut? If not, make a virtual visit to the museum and its inaugural exhibition, Affinity Atlas, through a video created by Ben Salzman ’14.

Army advisor: Schools key to Afghan future

Ancestors and members of the family of Matt Zeller ’04 have served in every U.S. war since the American Revolution. Zeller has continued the tradition of service as an embedded combat advisor in Afghanistan. While there, however, he chose some unusual weapons with which to fight: He began to give out pens and pencils to children hungry for knowledge.

Critical of some aspects of U.S. policy in the war-torn country, and starkly realistic about the chances for a stable, progressive peace — “there’s too much gross mismanagement to be optimistic,” he said — Zeller argued during a riveting Feb. 7 presentation on campus that such a peace must begin with Afghanistan’s children. It will be a decades-long process, he said, but finding a way to provide real education for the young, particularly girls and young women, is the only way to end war and terror in the region. The reasons: Educated Afghan women do not give their sons permission to fight in the military, and with an education comes the ability to think for oneself rather than be indoctrinated.

Zeller is now executive director of the Veterans Integration Project, a nonprofit organization that helps veterans transition to civilian life, gain admission to college and graduate into a job. He is also a fellow at the Truman Project for National Security and an adjunct fellow at the American Security Project. His book Watches Without Time: An American Soldier in Afghanistan chronicles his experience as a U.S. Army captain serving with Afghan security forces in Ghazni in 2008.

Join the crowd

Connect, share and discuss all things Hamilton through our new social media directory. You’ll find College departments, teams, alumni and student groups on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Something missing? Let us know — we’re here to keep the conversation rolling.

Not Charlton Heston playing Moses, but …

Les Misérables? Lincoln? Argo? By now you know Oscar night’s big winners. But you could have known which films took home the “religious Oscars” on Feb. 3, when Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies S. Brent Plate released his observations on the convergence of the cinematic and the spiritual.

“This year’s Oscar line-up is once again rife with religious ­references, and the entertainment industry may be overtaking religious institutions as the prime mythmakers and ritual producers in a society where the ‘nones’ are on the rise,” Plate wrote in “Religion at the Academy Awards,” a Feb. 3 essay on the Huffington Post website.

“As we bow to the golden statue called Oscar,” he wrote, we find the signs of our preoccupations with the transcendent, “from bullet-riddled, Bible-thumping slavers to chaos monsters at the depths of the bayou, from young boys mixing and merging South Asian rituals to moral compunctions about torture.” The references are to four nominees for best picture: Django Unchained, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty. Plate’s own picks?

  • Best Creation of Mythology: (tie) Beasts of the Southern Wild and Cloud Atlas
  • Best Re-use of Ritual: The Sessions
  • Best Iconography: Samsara
  • Best Ethical Compunction: Zero Dark Thirty
  • Best Sense of the Sacred in the Everyday: Amour
  • Best Hero’s Journey: Brave
  • Best Warning about the Excesses of Religion: The Master? 

Tripping hither, tripping thither’

British political and class systems take a satirical beating in Gilbert and Sullivan’s 1882 comic opera Iolanthe, performed Feb. 8-10 by the Department of Music. The annual choir musical, shown here in a Feb. 5 dress rehearsal, was directed by G. Roberts Kolb with choreography by Nancy Long and set and lighting design by William DiPaolo.

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