Miranda Darby

Bioinformatics Program Director Named

The Hood College bioinformatics master’s program is pleased to introduce a new program director who has more than a decade of experience in conducting research, teaching and directing educational programs.

Miranda Darby, Ph.D., is an expert in molecular biology and computing. She comes to Hood after working since September 2012 as a postdoctoral fellow in the Stanley Division of Developmental Neurovirology in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where she developed and implemented bioinformatics tools to study the genome. Prior to that, she completed thesis research at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, examining the mechanisms that regulate gene transcription.

“I am excited to establish the new bioinformatics program at Hood because I want to inspire Hood students to flourish in this rapidly evolving field,” Darby said. “I arrived at the beautiful campus and met smart, curious, passionate faculty members who are dedicated to providing the best opportunities for their students to thrive. I am eager to work with my new colleagues and to find opportunities for those who are interested in contributing their expertise to the bioinformatics program.”

Bioinformatics is the interface between computer science and biology. It is the application of the principals of computer science to the collection, classification, storage and analysis of biological and biochemical data. The recent boom in bioinformatics centers on the analysis and interpretation of molecular genetics and genomics data that is generated by next-generation, whole genome sequencing.

With the demand for knowledge and expertise in the field by regional employers including the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, the Frederick Cancer Research Center at Fort Detrick and others, students can find themselves with multiple job opportunities after finishing the program. Darby is focused on helping her students achieve success in the industry and in their lives.

“I knew I belonged at Hood when I read Hood’s mission statement, which describes my own goals: ‘to empower students to use their hearts, minds and hands to meet … challenges and lead purposeful lives …’”

Also, having completed her undergraduate studies at Carleton College in Minnesota, she understands the value of the liberal arts education that Hood provides.

“I think that a liberal arts education is the best possible foundation for future study in the sciences because liberal arts students are exposed to a wide variety of ideas concerning a full range of topics,” Darby said. “This prepares students to think outside of the confines of a specialized field and gives them a fresh perspective on the range of possibilities available to them.”

Alex Jarnot
Reem Zeitoon
Reem Zeitoon
Rob Sargsyan
Rob Sargsyan 2

Several Hood College students presented their research in chemistry and biology at the UMBC Undergraduate Research Symposium in October.

These students included Alex Jarnot, Reem Zeitoon, Rob Sargsyan, Elizabeth Slick, Kaitlin Recabo, Angela Mansfield, Sarah Meyer, Kenny Garced-Valle and Zachary Peck. The research projects were all funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF) or Hood’s Summer Research Institute (SRI). The SRI projects were funded by the Hodson Trust.

Jarnot’s research involved trying to understand the atmosphere inside of Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park in California. His work was through his internship with NASA’s Student Airborne Research Program and funded by NASA and the National Suborbital Education and Research Center (NSERC).

“We sampled the air inside the cave and found that the concentrations of several trace gases in the air were extremely low compared to the outside air,” he said. “I am working to try to determine what could be causing this decrease in trace gas concentration.”

His presentation included a poster on his research from the summer that displayed the data that was examined and some possible causes of the low concentrations.

Zietoon spent her SRI-funded summer trying to express and purify a protein called Myxoma virus leukemia associated protein so later they would be able to study its structure. This specific protein contains a zinc-finger motif, which involves a zinc ion complexed with several parts of the protein. These motifs are usually involved in binding DNA or RNA in the cell. She worked with her mentor, Dana Lawrence, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry.

Lawrence also worked with Sargsyan during his SRI project, which studied the solubility of a zinc-finger antiviral protein cloned with and without solubility tags. This particular protein has antiviral activity and therefore provides the host organism with resistance to viral infection. According to Sargsyan, the experiment was intended to find a method that would extract and isolate the protein. Sargsyan presented the data and results, then how they relate to a bigger picture.

As an SRI project, Slick and Recabo worked with Susan Ensel, Ph.D., Whitaker professor of chemistry, to find inhibitors for the botulinum neurotoxin, the toxin responsible for botulism and the most toxic naturally occurring substance known to humankind. Slick and Recabo synthesized and isolated several compounds that were designed as inhibitors of the neurotoxin. During the UMBC symposium, the senior chemistry and biochemistry majors presented their research on six such inhibitors that will contribute to the body of knowledge necessary to ultimately develop a drug to combat botulism.

Mansfield and Meyer won first place for their poster presentation on expanding student access to instrumentation through incorporation of portable infrared spectroscopy into the curriculum. Their research used a hands-on approach to scientific education and research and discussed how to make equipment more accessible to more students. This work is funded by a NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education grant and was conducted with Kevin Bennett, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, and Christopher Stromberg, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry.

Oney P. Smith, Ph.D., professor of biology, mentored Garced-Valle and Peck on separate SRI projects.

Garced-Valle investigated the gene expression of heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) found in the sea anemone, Aiptasia pallida, when they experience environmental stress, specifically elevated temperatures. Hood maintains these animals under laboratory conditions. The research found that there was a 60-fold increase in the HSP70 gene expression when the anemone was subjected to the higher temperature.

“Overall, the knowledge I gained was very beneficial to future lab experiences, including my current independent study,” Graced-Valle said. “In addition, the experience has made me more interested in laboratory-type jobs.”

Peck worked this summer to isolate, clone and sequence a DNA fragment found in red-eye fruit flies to help identify its location in the Drosophila genome. His work included computer-assisted searching of the database for the fly genome, which indicates the 1,800 base pair fragment is a part of the DNA found on several fly chromosomes. The information found will be used in an introductory cell biology and genetics course at Hood to improve a lab activity on Drosophila genetics.

“This past summer taught me what it was like to perform research and work in a lab environment, as well as how to present my findings,” Peck said. “It was an experience like none other and one that I will most definitely want to repeat.”

Simulation Editor

CS Internship Leads to Learning New Software and Computer Languages

John Pigott, a senior computer science and mathematics major, interned over the summer at the Advanced Biomedical Computing Center (ABCC), which is part of the National Cancer Institute at Fort Detrick.

He got a hands-on feel for working in an office environment with professionals, where he learned multiple computer languages that he later used to create a simple simulation of a blood vessel.

“It was a great experience for me because it allowed me to learn and work with the Unity3D Game Engine,” Pigott said. “This is a piece of software I had learned about and was interested in learning, but had never had the opportunity.”

The Unity3D Game Engine is a cross-platform game engine that is typically used to develop video games for websites, consoles or mobile devices.

In addition to the Unity3D Game Engine, Pigott had the chance to work with Blender and MeshLab softwares, which were required in able for him to complete his project.

Both Blender and MeshLab are computer softwares that allow users to develop 3D models, and both are commonly used for video game purposes.

“The computer science knowledge that I gained at Hood was most helpful during my internship,” stated Pigott. “One particular example coming in handy was the technique of Karnaugh maps, which I learned in my digital logic class where we learned how to simplify circuits to save space on a circuit board.”

Karnaugh maps provide a pictorial method of grouping expressions with common factors, which eliminates unwanted variables.

While he was learning the languages at the ABCC, the theories and principles he had learned at Hood allowed him to understand the languages necessary for the completion of his project.

At the end of his internship and project, Pigott completed a 30-minute presentation to some of the doctors at the ABCC explaining his project, the challenges he faced, the technologies he used, how the project was beneficial and what he was learning.

Photo: Pigott’s blood vessel simulation running in the Unity3D Game Engine editor.

Paige Rawl

Paige Rawl Visits for the First-Year Read

Paige Rawl, an author who has documented her struggle to find acceptance after being born HIV positive, visited Hood College in October as part of the school’s First Year Read program.

Rawl is co-author of “Positive: A Memoir,” this year’s First-Year Read, a required reading chosen for first-year students. Sophomore Abbey McAlister nominated “Positive” for the First-Year Read last year, so she had the pleasure of introducing Rawl to Hood. McAlister said she believed the book would be beneficial for first-year students because it had helped her in times of transition.

The book follows Rawl’s struggle with bullies in middle school because of her HIV status. The bullying got so bad she left for homeschooling, a hard decision for the extroverted teen. When leaving, her principal said, “I wish you could go to this school, but I can’t protect you.”

During that time, she realized her passion for educating people on HIV and AIDS and advocating against bullying in schools. Not long after, she transferred to a high school with a zero-tolerance bullying policy. She spent her first year keeping her HIV secret. However, after developing strong relationships with students and staff, she talked to the principal and began sharing her story with her school.

She went on to Ball State University but took some time off after “Positive” was published to promote the book. She originally intended to study molecular biology for HIV research, but she plans to switch to business and entrepreneurship to help her build her foundation, Paige Power. The foundation will allow her to educate low-income schools on HIV and anti-bullying advocacy.

At Hood, Rawl began her discussion by explaining the basics of HIV and AIDS. She explained how every strand is different, how one can contract the disease, and how she copes with having the disease.

She shared statistics about bullying, including that 64 percent of bullying incidents go without being reported, and she spoke about students getting bullied even at home through cyber bullying.

She gave students a piece of advice surrounding bullying: “Think about what you say before you say it, think about what you do before you do it.”

She also urged parents to be involved and take their children’s reports of bullying seriously.

After reading from her book, Rawl took questions from the audience and held a book signing.

Video Interview with Paige Rawl

Sonia Kovalevsky Day

Hood Hosts 13th Annual SK Math Day

Students and teachers from nine area high schools attended Hood College’s 13th annual Sonia Kovalevsky Math Day for high school girls Oct. 11.

The event honors Sonia Kovalevsky, the first woman to earn a doctorate in mathematics. The event has been held at colleges and universities all around the country for approximately two decades.

SK Day was organized by the Hood College Department of Mathematics and generously supported by the continued funding from PNC Bank and Frederick County Public Schools. Visiting students met with Hood faculty and students for a day of mathematics workshops and to hear from a panel of women who use math everyday in their careers.

“We are so pleased to be continuing our relationship with both PNC Bank and FCPS in planning this event,” said Jill Tysse, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics. “PNC Bank has supported SK Math Day for the past four events, and FCPS has enthusiastically supported the event from the beginning.”

Hood 1989 graduate Stacey Collins was there to represent PNC Bank. Hood alumni Casey Rogers ’97, from Middletown High School; Darrin Drum, M.S.’13, from Walkersville High School; and Scott Trexler, M.S.’13, from Frederick High School, all attended this year’s event with their students.

The day started off with a welcome from President Andrea Chapdelaine, Ph.D.

“Although we have made great progress, the gender gap in mathematics remains,” she said. “Sonia Kovalevsky’s persistence in studying math despite significant barriers and lack of support is an inspiration to all female students interested in mathematics and related professions. I am proud that Hood, along with PNC Bank and FCPS, is able to share Sonia’s story with these high school students and provide them an opportunity to learn more about mathematics.”

Over the course of the day, the students attended several mathematics workshops led by Hood faculty. Gwyn Whieldon, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics, ran a workshop called “Mathe-magic!” where she showed students how to use the mathematics of permutations, modular arithmetic and other algebraic topics to perform tricks involving numbers, coins, cards and more.

Sara Malec, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics, led an “Anamorphic Art” workshop that showed students the math behind different kinds of anamorphosis—an artistic technique used to produce art that must be viewed from a specific angle to be seen.

Taking a break from workshops, during lunch, the high school students heard Hood seniors Sarah Hood and Karina Stetsyuk present a talk on the life of Sonia Kovalevsky.

Following lunch, there was a career panel during which students had the opportunity to hear from women who use mathematics in their careers. Hood 2015 graduate Megan Mercer, a software engineer from iNovex Information Systems; Heather King, a statistician with the United States Census Bureau; and Amanda Forster, a materials research engineer with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, all explained how they use math daily in their work.

16_Tatem Dedication

Tatem Arts Center Renovation

The $5.5 million, two-year renovation of Hood College’s Tatem Arts Center is complete. The project added office space and several state-of-the-art classrooms.

Price Auditorium and the attic were reconfigured to add an extra 7,000 square feet of space to the building. The psychology and counseling programs have moved to the third floor, and the moot courtroom has been constructed for the law and criminal justice program. A new, handicapped-accessible entrance and an elevator have been added to the east side of the building.

“The renovations to this building have expanded its use to accommodate several different academic programs,” said Debbie Ricker, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We are so excited to be able to offer the new features of this facility to our students and faculty.”

The addition of the moot courtroom follows the College’s addition of the Department of Law and Criminal Justice. It is a continuation of Hood’s emphasis on experiential learning and a critical feature of the law and criminal justice major. Students prepare and deliver oral arguments, draft legal briefs and learn courtroom decorum.

“Every class held in the moot courtroom uses simulations that give students opportunities to take part in both trial and appellate advocacy by assuming the role of attorney, witness, judge or jury,” said Teresa Bean, assistant professor of law and criminal justice. “Students are actively engaged in the lesson and know they can be called on at any time to take a side or be the judge. The students in the courtroom are building on core competencies including legal analysis and reasoning, problem solving, and negotiation, while also utilizing soft skills such as oral advocacy and communication skills, collaboration, and exercising sound legal judgment.”

Bean and Janis Judson, professor of political science, teach all of their classes in the courtroom. The teaching podium swivels so they can address the classroom in the gallery seating while teaching, and students can address the mock court during a jury or trial session.

“Using this state-of-the-art courtroom bridges the gap between theory and practice,” Bean said.

The financial supporters for the moot court are: Virginia Procino Hartmann ’72 and Thomas W. Hartmann; Mary Alice Peeling ’76, Esq.; Ellen S. Sacks ’70, Esq., and Henry J. Widmaier; Christina Monroe Smith ’71, Esq., and Anthony J. Smith; and Marcia Heister Wilcox ’78, Esq., and Alfred H. Wilcox.

Hartmann is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force who is currently working alongside her attorney husband, Tom, as a paralegal at the Hartmann Law Firm. Peeling is the head of outreach services at Widener University School of Law Library. Sacks is an attorney with the Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn, New York. Smith is a former attorney with Lieblich & Grimes and retired attorney of the Pentagon Army and Air Force Legal Assistance Office. Her gift was made in memory of her father, the Honorable Donald H. Monroe and her mother, Mary Kinsman Monroe, who graduated from Hood in 1947. Wilcox is a former corporate attorney and is now enjoying a second career in executive coaching through her company Halyard Coaching.

This renovation would not have been possible without the help and foresight of several members of the Hood community.

“I would like to thank Ron Volpe (president emeritus) for his leadership in beginning this project and Chuck Mann (vice president for finance and treasurer) for shepherding this project so well over the last two years,” President Andrea Chapdelaine said. “I would also like to thank Jim Thomas, director of facilities; Cale Christensen with Whiting-Turner (the construction company that renovated the building); and Natalie Brown, project manager, along with the faculty who helped guide and advise on this project to ensure we would meet our students’ needs.”

Pictured above: Debbie Ricker, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs; Ingrid Farreras, Ph.D., professor of psychology and chair of the Department of Psychology; Roser Caminals-Heath, Ph.D., professor of Spanish; President Andrea E. Chapdelaine, Ph.D.; Hanna Martinez, Class of 2017; Sam Wells, vice president of Whiting-Turner and member of the Hood College Board of Trustees; Janis Judson, Ph.D., professor of political science; Michael Proffett, architect, member of the Hood College Board of Associates; Judy Sherman, Ed.D., assistant professor of education, chair of the Department of Education; Mark Friis, member of the Hood College Board of Trustees, chair of the facilities committee; Phil Berkheimer, chair of the Board of Trustees; Jennifer Ross, Ph.D., professor of art and archaeology.


Homecoming and Fall Family Weekend

The campus was alive with students, families, friends and alumni during Hood’s Homecoming and Fall Family Weekend Oct. 21-22. It was great to see so many members of the Hood community here enjoying activities and each other’s company.

The festivities began Friday evening with a President’s Club reception to honor and recognize those who have donated to Hood. Hypnotist Marshall Manlove performed, and the Homecoming Late Night Extravaganza included a taco bar, dancing and activities.

Saturday opened with Hood’s second annual Presidential Fun Run 5K for those who were eager to wake up early and brave the chilly fall weather. All proceeds went toward the Blue and Grey Club, which supports Hood Athletics. The run raised more than $1,000!

A Legacy Brunch was held for students and alumni who have family members who also attended Hood in honor of their family’s history at the College. A number of drop-in academic presentations were available so students could introduce their families to faculty and show them some of Hood’s new and exciting spaces, including the Virginia Munson Hammell ’67 Trading Room in Rosenstock Hall and the moot courtroom in the Tatem Arts Center.

Events also included a homecoming festival and tailgating, a women’s field hockey and men’s and women’s soccer games, and an evening showing of summer blockbuster “Finding Dory.” Due to windy conditions, activities and vendors were moved from the residential quad to Coblentz Hall and the Ronald J. Volpe Athletic Center.

Students and guests enjoyed lunch, student organization activities, face painting and live music from local band Secondhand Ramblers.

It was a busy weekend, and everyone had a blast—we’re ready for next year!

#HoodHomecoming photos are posted on Facebook. Please share and tag yourselves and friends!

Kristen Portalea

Student Capstone Explains Use of Math in Car Crash Reconstruction

Kristen Portalea, a recent Master of Science graduate from the mathematics education program, completed a capstone project called “The Mathematics of Driving” in which she created a series of lesson plans for Algebra I students to learn skills in the context of car crash reconstruction.

“It included lesson plans that math teachers could use in the classroom that would be relevant to students and connect to the curriculum,” Portalea said.

She chose this project after talking with a police officer friend about classes he had taken in collision reconstruction and the math that was involved, especially the Pythagorean theorem, which she was teaching at the time.

Her five lessons were motivated by her desire to help students realize the meaning behind mathematics. Portalea wrote in her paper, “Students’ qualms about practical uses of their mathematical knowledge can be eased by highlighting the many careers that use mathematics to solve real-world problems.”

Lesson one requires students to find the rate of change between two points on a graph, then apply that to the Federal Highway Administration manual to decide which signs need to be placed on a roadway in order to properly warn drivers.

In lesson two, students build a version of a drag sled that is used by crash reconstructionists to determine the friction on the road surface. This, along with tire marks on the road, helps determine the speed and stopping distance of the driver.

Lesson three, she said, “helps students recognize the importance of solving literal equations—equations with many variables—as well as using algebraic properties to solve equations.”

Lesson four has students develop a formula to calculate the maximum speed a vehicle can go around a curve without losing control. Finally, lesson five combines their skills to work through an accident report as a police officer.

Her research will be published in the spring 2017 issue of “Banneker Banner,” the official journal of the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The Montgomery County Police Department also plans to use the research in its trainings.

“My friend and the police department helped me a lot throughout this project, so I am grateful that my lessons may be useful to the police department,” said Portalea. “Our society drives so frequently that everybody can relate to this application of math.”

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Korva Coleman Kicks Off Passion and Profession Series

NPR newscaster Korva Coleman recently kicked off Hood’s new “Passion and Profession” speaker series with a talk about experiences that guided her through her career, including reflections on the gifts of failure.

Coleman is best known for her role delivering national newscasts airing during NPR’s news magazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition. She said she has always been drawn to radio, majoring in journalism at Howard University and working as a newscaster before moving to Washington, D.C. However, she didn’t immediately recognize radio as her passion.

“I’m passionate about what I am doing because it took some trial and error to discover what I wanted and what I actually needed to do,” she told the audience. “Radio was one of my absolute first loves and has remained so all of my life.”

Before Coleman’s career took off at WAMU, Washington, D.C.’s local NPR station, she was enrolled at Georgetown University Law Center with ambitions of being a lawyer or running for office. Unable to keep her grades up and shake the feeling that law school wasn’t what she was meant to do, Coleman dropped out and jumped on an opportunity to give radio a try. She called the experience “very serendipitous” and credits her failure with allowing her to discover her true passion.

She prodded the audience to ask themselves, “Are you happy with your choices?” and encouraged students to think of Hood College as their safe space to try new things, consider different ways of thinking, and discover their own true passions.

“Take up the mental exercise of trying to take a world view that is different from the one you are accustomed to believing,” she said. “You may ultimately decide that this is not a world view that you want to keep, but how are you going to know this if you haven’t tried it?”

Before her public talk, Coleman also spoke to a class of communication arts and English majors, many with aspirations to work in journalism themselves. As the mother of two college students, she said she knows making choices that will chart the path for the rest of one’s life is scary.

“Go ahead and be afraid, but do it anyway. Whatever that may be,” she advised students. “If you’re not willing to try, you certainly won’t succeed and you’ll never know, and that would be the greatest loss of all.”

She said college is the place students get to test drive all the things they might want to be, and failing, whether that’s changing majors or taking a completely new path than originally intended, can be a great gift.

“Ask yourself, ‘Why am I here? What do I secretly really want to try to do? What would I most regret that I failed to try to do?’” she said to students.

“Remember the purpose of a liberal arts education is to help you answer these questions about yourself,” Coleman continued. “It’s to help you realize your humanity. It is to help you learn to accept the gift of failure and to take the precious lessons from that shortcoming. Don’t miss this chance. Don’t lose this gift.”

The “Passion and Profession” series, created by the Catherine Filene Shouse Career Center and Office of Service Learning and the Office of the Dean of the Chapel, will feature a speaker each semester whose career is based in a particular set of personal values that connect to a current social justice issue. The mission of the series is to introduce students to a variety of professions, to hear the stories of successful individuals and their preparation for and practice of a profession, as well as to understand how a liberal arts education has contributed to their personal and professional development.

Watch Coleman’s complete talk and a video interview below.

Writing the Wrong

Writing the Wrong Initiative Focuses On Advancement of Women

Molly Masterson ’17 and Logan Samuels ’17 launched an initiative called “Writing the Wrong” in the summer 2015, focused on women’s equality, advancement and empowerment, as well as the encouragement of leadership, all in the hopes of attaining peace over prejudice.

They were able to start the program thanks to a Davis Projects for Peace grant, which is awarded to college students who want to create and execute their ideas for building peace and understanding throughout the world. This summer, they were able to continue the program with money they were awarded through a Volpe Scholarship, a prestigious Hood College scholarship that provides funds for exceptional students to take part in unique, experiential learning opportunities.

Masterson, an archaeology and Spanish double major, and Samuels, a communication arts and English double major with a leadership minor, wanted to combine their academic interests and skills to help Spanish-speaking girls learn new English speaking and writing skills. They considered taking their program abroad but decided there was a need in the local community. The pair delved into local English Language Learner programs and used the money from the Davis Projects for Peace grant to implement a five-week after-school program at Frederick High School for immigrant girls from Latin-American countries with a basic to limited understanding of the English language.

“We knew that we wanted to work with young women as we are both passionate about women’s rights, equality and leadership, and we wanted to instill that in a younger generation,” said Samuels.

The goal of the project was to provide an outlet that allowed the girls to express the difficulties they have faced in a healthy and creative way to find peace in their new lives. Masterson and Samuels led the production of a literary journal titled “Palabras de Amor para Zarpar,” or “Words of Love to Set Sail,” which included contemporary issues, editorials, future objectives and goals, prose, artwork and photographs by the girls. The participants learned the fundamentals behind creating a piece of literary work and the important steps of peer revision, and they increased their writing abilities. They also gained knowledge of the cultural and gender intolerances that their societies still face and ways in which they can combat them.

“From there, we got such positive feedback from the participants and the community that we decided to reach more students and focus on a new crowd of girls,” said Masterson.

With the money from the Volpe Scholars award, Masterson and Samuels led a five-week program for middle school girls at West Frederick and Monocacy middle schools that culminated in a published newspaper, called “Writing the Wrong: La Ilumninación,” or “Writing the Wrong: Enlightenment.” The students learned about current events and issues that have an impact on their daily lives, and they learned journalism skills including writing development and editing. They were split into beat groups of global news, local news, editorial and lifestyle. The program also included two field trips: one to visit the Newseum in Washington, D.C., to put the goals of the project in perspective, and one to Hood’s campus to get exposure to the world of higher education.

“Professionally, this project has prepared us for anything,” said Samuels. “We have learned to juggle the unexpected and are able to adjust a syllabus, our schedule or even our mentality to a completely new situation. We have now worked with around 20 students and have been introduced to so many different backgrounds, stories and abilities and have learned how to work with each one as an individual and cater to their needs.”

Through this program, Masterson and Samuels have learned a lot from their students and have become even more motivated to continue their service.

“Both of our academic backgrounds have provided us with the tools to communicate with the girls in both English and Spanish,” said Masterson. “More than that, we have been able to connect with these girls in a way unlike any other and have learned lessons from the students. We have shared our values, aspirations and goals with them and have increased their confidence in themselves and their writing. These girls have taught us how lucky we are and that we have so many opportunities that others do not possess. They have humbled us and inspired us to be better and do more outside of our own personal wants and needs.”

Masterson and Samuels are now trying to establish Writing the Wrong as a nonprofit and find new leaders to carry on the programs. They also hope to start several initiatives focused on education, women’s empowerment and leadership to help past and future members of their program pursue education or projects.

For more information on Writing the Wrong and to see online versions of the program publications, visit writingthewrong.webs.com.

Pictured above: Masterson and Samuels with their students at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.