Cavanagh Family Scholarship
Adriane ’19, from Adamsville, Alabama, says, “I'm a first-generation student who didn't think I could go to college because my family couldn't afford to send me. Being here means I have the opportunity to make a better life for myself, and hopefully I can do what I love along the way.”
What awards or honors did you receive in high school?
2015 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts (writing); Books-A-Million Publishing contest winner (which published my first book), published in The New York Times; YoungArts national finalist for creative nonfiction and merit winner for poetry; Scholastic Art & Writing Gold Key and Best in Grade award for creative nonfiction; Foyle International Young Poets of the Year award; Columbia College Young Authors winner (twice in fiction, once for creative nonfiction); Hollins University Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest winner; and QuestBridge College Match finalist.
What AP courses, college courses, or other similar classes did you take in high school?
AP Art History, AP U.S. History, and AP Economics.
In what extracurricular activities, jobs, sports, or clubs did you participate in high school?
Head editor of school's literary magazine; Sidewalk Film Festival Youth Board (screenwriting, directing, editing, casting, and screening films for the festival), marketing intern; guitar and ukulele; Quiz Bowl; cashier/pizza chef at Domino's; volunteer poetry instructor at a local writing center and elementary school; and race volunteer at a local running club.
Why did you choose Wesleyan?
Wesleyan offers unbeatable resources for the three things I care about most: writing, film, and music. Writer's Block, a dorm just for writers, was a huge draw, along with the reading series. The film series was just as important (it's also been what I've enjoyed most since coming here), and the film department in general was a huge factor in my decision. I was also attracted to the vibrant music scene. The open curriculum and Wesleyan's small-but-not-too-small size were more reasons, along with the fact that Wesleyan is a QuestBridge partner school.
Are you considering a major?
I know for sure that I'll major in English, but I'm also considering a double major in film. I want to explore a little more before I decide on a second major, though.
What classes are you taking this semester?
Audio Engineering and Production, The Beats and Their Discontents, Foundations of Contemporary Psychology, and Anarchy in America: From Haymarket to Occupy Wall Street.
Which class is your favorite this semester and why?
My creative writing class, The Beats and Their Discontents, has been my favorite class I’ve taken at Wesleyan so far. We’ve read several Beat novels and memoirs, and we’ve also read poetry from the most prominent Beat writers. Visiting Writer in English Douglas Arthur Martin gives us reading response prompts that are both fun and critically engaging, and I’ve seen my writing grow so much from this class. The Beats were so unafraid to address topics that previously had been deemed unacceptable, and I’ve been trying to stop censoring myself and bring out that fearlessness more in my work.
Who is your favorite professor this semester and why?
I’m taking a student forum this semester in conjunction with Red Feather Studios in order to learn how to engineer recording sessions. A senior, Mikah Feldman-Stein ’16, teaches the class. The whole semester, Mikah has been great about explaining how different equipment works and about techniques we can use to make a mix sound better. He’s also been really great about answering our panicked phone calls when we’re engineering and run into issues at the studio, no matter how late our sessions are.
Part of the class included helping Mikah set up for his thesis concert in Beckham. Mikah’s thesis involved a full band, geometric images (that corresponded to the music) projected on a screen behind them, and covers along with songs he had written. When we left his concert, I turned to my friend and said, “I came to Wes to hear music like that.” It’s been really inspiring to see what Mikah is doing artistically, both in his own music and in the studio, and try to bring what we’ve picked up from him into our own art.
To date, what is your biggest academic achievement at Wesleyan?
When I had my end-semester meeting with my creative writing professor, Clifford Chase, in December, he told me “You have the gift.” I felt like I had been struggling with my writing all semester, that it’s usually stronger than what I was producing, so I wasn’t expecting that at all. I had built up so much self-doubt surrounding my writing last semester, and it was so wonderful to get encouragement—especially that level of encouragement—from someone I respected.
To date, what has been your biggest academic challenge?
During my first semester, I took a music class called Materials and Design. I played guitar and ukulele before coming here, but I taught myself. Guitar tablature and chord diagrams look much different than sheet music, so I felt like I was beginning from nothing. Almost everyone in the class has taken piano for years, so they knew a large portion of the material already. I thought that since this was an introductory class, most people would have my level of experience, but that wasn’t true. It was a struggle to keep up, but by the end of the semester, I understood music on an entirely different level. The class made me realize that while I may feel intellectually inadequate at times during my four years here, I need to work harder to overcome those gaps because eventually there will be a payoff.
What activities, jobs, sports, and/or clubs do you participate in outside of class?
I’m an audio engineer at Red Feather Studios; a poetry teacher at Green Street Teaching and Learning Center; and a member of Outing Club, Cardinal Pictures, and QuestBridge/First Class. I’m also half of a music duo (I play guitar and sing) that is still, unfortunately, nameless.
So far, what has been your most memorable experience at Wesleyan?
One of my friends—Rodrick—and I came back from winter break early to participate in CareerLab. The night before all the other students came back, we decided to prank Rodrick’s roommate, Nikolai. We moved all of Rodrick’s belongings into my room. There were clothes all over my mattress, so many things on my floor that you couldn’t move, and Rodrick hid under my bed for several hours. We had taped a new nametag to the door to make Nikolai think someone else was moving in and Rodrick had left without notice.
Nikolai’s side of the room is always pretty messy and Rodrick’s side is always pristine. At the end of the first semester, Nikolai had so much work that he stopped putting things away and his side got incredibly tornadic, so Rodrick and I decided to use that as an excuse—Rodrick moved out because he couldn’t take the mess anymore, but he didn’t tell Nikolai because he didn’t want to hurt Nikolai’s feelings.
I stayed in the dorm lounge until Nikolai walked in. I’m a notoriously bad liar, but I kept the story going for an hour before I folded. Nikolai was freaking out, and I just couldn’t hold myself together. Afterwards, we all helped Rodrick move back in. This started a prank war between the three of us, though, and I’m afraid it’s going to last until we graduate.
What does attending Wesleyan mean to you?
I'm a first-generation student who didn't think I could go to college because my family couldn't afford to send me. My mother dropped out of college, as did my brother, and my dad didn't go to college. Being here means I have the opportunity to make a better life for myself, and hopefully I can do what I love along the way.