Hopkins Students "Shadow" Alumni/ae on the Stage, the Farm and Beyond

Beth Milles ’84 is very clear about the value of her Hopkins education.  “Hopkins gave me the confidence to reinvent my life.  I attribute the bravery I am so very proud of and I try to teach (and encourage) daily to my Hopkins experiences—in the classroom and on the field.”  
Beth’s latest reinvention is as Director of Education at Long Wharf Theatre, where she first ushered as a student volunteer, and where she is now developing initiatives for sharing the work of Long Wharf out into the community and New Haven area schools.
As part of that sharing, Beth responded to fellow 1984 classmate Ron Delfini’s call to participate in the Hopkins Alumni/ae Job Shadow program.  Launched by Delfini and the Hopkins Alumni/ae Association in 2007, the program matches rising seniors with opportunities to spend a day “at work”, over the summer months, with area alumni/ae involved in various occupations and professions.  Since the program’s inception, more than 100 students have participated, successfully shadowing physicians, architects, judges, journalists, investment managers and aerospace engineers. This summer, theater director and conservationist were added to the list.
On a steaming hot day in July, Beth Milles welcomed to the workshop stage at Long Wharf, four rising seniors, Emma Deshpande, Sarah Wang, Lisanne deGroot and Meghan Podolsky, each with a distinct gift and passion for theater.  Milles’ goal for their brief time together was to create a “piece of work” on the spot, and thereby underline the importance of the creative process and learning to be comfortable with incompleteness.  
“The creative process fosters and motivates bravery in the classroom and on the stage”, said Milles.  Within minutes, the students were writing, directing and acting. Throughout, Milles dispensed her hard-won wisdom from two decades of directing and teaching. “Be great at one thing,” she said, “but learn how to do everything else around it”.  And, “whatever dramatic piece you are working on as a director, come up with impossibility, and make it happen.”
Sixty miles north of New Haven, rising senior Lauren Hagani and alumnus Paul Elconin ’87, Director of Land Conservation at Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust, were matched up in a “shadow” that focused on learning the value of “easements” on private property to ensure an area is never developed and its ecosystems are protected.  Since its founding in 1965, Weantinoge has protected more than 9,000 acres in 17 communities throughout Northwest Connecticut.  
Elconin came to conservation through his parents’ love of the outdoors and a summer project tracking, tagging and monitoring wolves in northern Minnesota with Hopkins classmate Matt Black ’87.  Lauren was deeply impressed by Elconin’s approach to securing easements.  “He did not look at the land in terms of its individual potential, but rather as part of a bigger whole, of how to pull various easements together to create an overall protected system.”  
Back in New Haven, Lauren reflected on her experience, articulating just the kind of takeaway the Job Shadow Program hopes to accomplish. “Now when I consider an issue, I will think about the source of the problem, what can be done to reverse the negative effects and how to maintain that reversal?”

During the summer of 2015, fifteen alumni/ae participated in the job job shadow program.  They are Scott Fine ’88, Nancy Sharp ’84, Annsley Rosner Slawsky ’95, Beth Milles ’84, Paul Elconin ‘87, Marc Etkind ’83, Dan Slotnick ’01, Lori Iannotti Zyskowski ’89, Melissa Feldsher ’02, Ron Delfini ’61, Michael Burdett ’81, Eric Tichy ’95, John Forres ’94, Alexine Casanova Gaye ’00 and Kate Smith ’08.  
Participating students were Nikolas Zarikos, Madeline Prister, Mollie Seidner, Katherine Sargent, Andy Sedlack, Eliza Renn, Lauren Antonelli, Omari Caldwell, Emma Deshpande, Sarah Wang, Lisanne de Groot, Megan Podolsky,Emmanuel Chinumba, Sophie Cappelo, Lindsay Martin, Arman Mitra, Rica Generoso, Billy McGrath, Evan Pham, W. Colby Gardner, Carmen Ciardiello, Sasha Cabin, Natalie Passarelli, Will Simon and Juliet Verlaque.
If you are an alumni/ae and interested in participating in a job shadow, contact Lauren Reichart, lreichart@hopkins.edu.
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