Five College News

News and Announcements from the 2020-21 Academic Year.

Articles and Announcements 2020-21

Five College ASL student awarded annual Lorna Peterson Prize

May 25, 2021:  Hayden Gadd, a member of the Hampshire College class of 2021, has been awarded the Lorna Peterson Prize in acknowledgement of his extensive participation in multi-campus life and academics within the Five College Consortium.

Hayden studied American Sign Language (ASL) at the Five College Center for World Languages. Over the past two years he has collaborated with his ASL instructor, Dana Hoover, and the director of the Amherst College Choral Society, Arianne Abela, to provide simultaneous ASL interpreting for choir performances, including a performance of the John Legend/Common song Glory. with the Amherst College Glee Club. Hayden has also completed the Five College Cognitive Neuroscience certificate.

“The fusion of ASL and music has sharpened my knowledge of how to interpret from one language to another, and has improved my musical and stage performance ability,” said Hayden. “I feel that it has had an immense impact on the choir and our audiences. I’ve been honored to receive gratitude from both d/Deaf and non-d/Deaf audience members for helping them connect to music in new and compelling ways.”

“Hayden is an unforgettable student,” said Dana, a Five College joint faculty appointee who teaches at UMass Amherst as well as the Five College Center for World Languages. “My very first impression of Hayden was that he showed every effort to make sure that I, as a Deaf professor, understood he was assertively ready and highly motivated to learn ASL. Hayden has certainly continued his wonderful passion and attitude for learning the language.”

The award is named for Lorna Peterson, who worked at Five Colleges for 29 years, including 19 years as the consortium’s leader. It honors Peterson’s commitment to collaboration as a means of advancing understanding and expanding opportunities, especially for students. The $500 prize is awarded annually based on nominations from Five College programs.

Last year the award was given to Jéa Adams, Amherst College class of 2021. Jéa was a student of the Five College Astronomy Department who was recognized for her passion for astrophysics, participation at the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program in Astronomy at Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics (CfA), and work with Dr. Alexandra Pope, Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Staff Hired to Support Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative

February 1, 2021:  Five Colleges, Incorporated has hired two new staff members to help carry out a major effort to build a model of collaborative teaching and learning for Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) among the consortium’s member campuses. Titled Gathering at the Crossroads, the effort will allow the campuses to develop a set of new academic pathways for students interested in NAIS, as well as create new advising structures to guide students through these academic options. It is supported by a $2.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Debra Butler has been hired to the position of curriculum development fellow for the initiative, and Rachel Beth Sayet has been hired to be community development fellow. Both are three-year positions funded by the grant.

As curriculum development fellow, Debra Butler will work closely with faculty to expand academic opportunities for Five College students. Her faculty partners will include NAIS scholars as well as those from other fields looking to integrate NAIS material and methodologies into their coursework. Butler’s background is working with tribal and indigenous communities in the Southeast United States as well as with the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals and the Rising Voices Center for Indigenous and Earth Sciences on a range of issues surrounding environmental migration and climate mitigation planning. She is completing her PhD at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

“We are excited to welcome Debra to the NAIS community,” says Kiara Vigil, associate professor of American studies at Amherst College and co-convener of the NAIS Mellon Grant Advisory Circle overseeing the initiative. “She contributes academic knowledge that will be extremely helpful in guiding the NAIS certificate programs, and she will also help to further the efforts of faculty, staff, and students who are committed to strengthening and growing NAIS work here.”

In her work as the community development fellow, Rachel Beth Sayet will provide guidance and training recommendations to campus advisors, professors, and administrators who work with Native students, while developing programming to serve Native student communities and cultivate NAIS scholars. In addition, she will expand relationships with Native communities in the region and forge connections to the Five College community. Sayet, has years of experience working in both tribal libraries and museums, including being the event planner and curator of the Tantaquidgeon Museum on the Mohegan Reservation for the past two years. She also gives lectures at classrooms throughout New England on Native foodways of the Northeast. Sayet has a master’s degree in anthropology from Harvard University, with minors in museum studies and business communication.

“Rachel Beth brings a wealth of personal and academic skills and experience to her role as the community development fellow, and could not be better suited to help guide the strengthening of a Native American and Indigenous community within the Kwinitekw Valley,” says Vigil. “Her deep-rooted family ties to the Mohegan Nation reflect an on-going relationship that scholars, students, and community members across the campuses already have with this local Indigenous nation, and we are excited to see what more we can learn from her. Debra and Rachel Beth offer complementary sets of skills that make them an ideal cohort for NAIS initiatives that are funded by the Mellon Grant.”

Butler and Sayet both began in their new positions in January, 2021.