Oglethorpe Filmmakers to Compete for $10,000 National Prize

A team of Oglethorpe University student filmmakers has been selected to advance to the final round of the Campus Movie Fest (CMF) Fan Choice Award, presented by Western Digital. The team will be among a group of the best student-created films nationwide, competing for a chance to win $10,000.

The team accepts their CMF award at the Oglethorpe University Red Carpet premiere event

The team accepts their CMF award at the Oglethorpe University Red Carpet premiere event

Nearly 500 movies from 11 colleges were in competition within the southeastern group, with only five movies selected to advance to the final round of national competition. Also advancing from Oglethorpe’s district are University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, and The University of Tampa.

Oglethorpe’s winning team, originally named The Ugly Sweater and The Onsies, and recently renamed Nine Cents Broke, include: Amanda Turner ’17, Sonny Pimentel ’16, Elizabeth Kirkwoork ’18, and Audrey Stradler ’18, all of whom are studying studio art, photography, and video/film, as well as Jack Bishop ’17 and Amanda Ake ’17, both English majors, and Miranda Lotufo ’18, Victoria Lindbergh ’17, and Kieran Flake ’17, all theatre majors.

Amanda Turner, editor and spokesperson for the group, was overwhelmed at the honor of being selected, saying, “it’s pretty amazing to suddenly win something as big as Campus Movie Fest. I don’t think any of us knew how we were going to do or what we were up against. I think a few us were crying with joy.”

Members of the team will be making the trip to Los Angeles, Calif. in June where their movie “[fixed.echoes]” will be shown along with 19 other top voted films from three other voting groups across the country, in competition for the $10,000 price.

Good luck, Team Nine Cents Broke!

 

 

Oglethorpe Professor Named to “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire”

hebbarCongratulations to Dr. Reshmi Hebbar, assistant professor of English at Oglethorpe, who was named to NerdScholar’s 2015 list of “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire”. She is among professors from across the country recognized for the positive impact they have made on their students.

Honorees were selected based on their ability to captivate and engage students in the classroom, their outstanding involvement on campus and in the community, and their overwhelming passion for their subject matter. Nominations were collected through student, alumni, and faculty recommendations following an open call to several hundred colleges and universities nationwide.

Dr. Hebbar was nominated by Dr. Glenn Sharfman, provost and vice president for academic affairs, who recognized her as a “dynamic, engaging, and passionate teacher” with a “deserved reputation for excellence in the classroom.”

“The best professors do more than teach. They leave impressions on our lives that change the way we think, work and view the world around us. These 40 professors are doing just that, demonstrating the difference between good and great.”  – NerdScholar

NerdScholar is the higher education branch of NerdWallet, a consumer finance website that helps people make better decisions when it comes to their money. NerdScholar offers advice and resources specifically for college students. Their free website walks students through the process of choosing a best-fit college, applying for financial aid, taking out student loans, and landing a job.

Read more about Dr. Hebbar’s selection to NerdScholar’s “40 under 40″.

Einstein Makes an Appearance at Oglethorpe

photo by Travis TaylorIn celebration of the 100th anniversary of our campus, Oglethorpe University has put one of its rare treasures on display: Albert Einstein’s handwritten manuscript, “The Experimental Confirmation of the General Theory of Relativity,” on view through April 30, 2015 in the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA).

The manuscript, penned in 1920, was written by Einstein by request from his colleague Robert Lawson, an English physicist. Lawson was in the process of translating Einstein’s 1917 work, “Relativity: the Special and General Theory” and asked Einstein to give him observational proof of general relativity for the 1920 English edition. The exact documents Einstein gave to Lawson are now being exhibited for a special few months, exclusively here on campus.

Thornwell Jacobs

Dr. Thornwell Jacobs, President of Oglethorpe University, 1915-1943

Oglethorpe came into possession of the documents in a unique way that spans back to its founding in 1835. Oglethorpe originally had its roots in Midway, a town near Milledgeville, Ga. Because of the Civil War, the school closed for a while. However, Thornwell Jacobs, a generous and well-educated Presbyterian minister, was determined to restore the school. He had grown up hearing stories about Oglethorpe from his grandfather, Ferdinand Jacobs, who had been a faculty member there, and it became his dream to someday reopen the school. A skilled fundraiser, Thornwell Jacobs raised enough money and interest to organize a Board of Trustees for the college by 1912. With land donated by the Silver Lake Park Company and the help of Atlanta architectural firm of Morgan Dillon and Downing, Oglethorpe University at last reopened in 1915 and welcomed 45 students in 1916. Serving as president of the university through 1943, Jacobs accomplished many things, including launching the Crypt of Civilization and establishing a medical school. Jacobs was a true Renaissance man with a talent for writing that led him to found and publish The Westminster Magazine. He will always be remembered for his detailed letters and amazing ability to positively influence others.

As for the Einstein manuscript, it was given to Oglethorpe University by alumna Nellie Jane Gaertner ’34 in 1982. She was the daughter of Herman Julius Gaertner, one of the first faculty members appointed when Jacobs re-opened Oglethorpe at its current Atlanta location in 1915. The manuscript had been retained by Lawson for some years before it was acquired by Herman Julius Gaertner, a professor of German and Mathematics. Oglethorpe is lucky to posses the manuscript as most of Einstein’s work now resides at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jordan Michaels_Holly Bostick_John Tilford

Students Jordan K. Michels and Holly Bostick examine the manuscript with OUMA Collections Manager John Tilford.

OUMA Collections Manager John Tilford helped to illustrate the historical context of the manuscript’s creation, as well as the history of Einstein’s expansive archive. He relied on a number of rarely-seen images of Einstein and his colleagues, including personal secretary Helen Dukas and Professor Otto Nathan, both co-trustees of Einstein’s literary estate. According to John, Helen Dukas preserved Einstein’s papers for decades before they were given to Hebrew University after her death, and for this, scholars and historians owe her an enormous debt.

“Staff and faculty of Division III (Natural Sciences), OUMA, and the Philip Weltner Library, with the enthusiastic input and support of OU students, came together seamlessly to present the manuscript and a rich program of lectures, films, and other events,” says Elizabeth Peterson, director of OUMA. “We are grateful for a Georgia Humanities Council grant which supports these activities and thrilled to again be part of the Atlanta Science Festival.”

The Einstein exhibition has generated robust student involvement with interest from scholars of all disciplines and departments. Students from a variety of majors including physics, theatre, English, and philosophy came together to participate in a group reading of Einstein’s Dreams. Additionally, Oglethorpe University senior and physics major Antonio Mántica leads “A Tour through Time”, during the week of the Atlanta Science Festival. His presentation will explain the historical and current understandings of how time functions and how we can use that knowledge to inform our experience of it. Other events include three film screenings and discussions about Einstein-related movies, and an evening of astronomy with Fernbank Science Center astronomer April Whitt.

“The manuscript should be viewed in person to truly appreciate its uniqueness as each word, diagram and calculation, including a few corrections, were all penned by Einstein’s own hand,” says Tilford. “Anyone can read the transcribed text in print and digital formats but the power of the handwritten documents must be witnessed first hand.”

Ariana Feiner is a writer and a student at Oglethorpe University. She enjoys art history and recently published her first children’s book, Ariana Rose: A Story of Courage.
This online story was adapted from an assignment for her journalism class.

Exploring Cultural Crossroads

Dr. Herschler pictured at the Library of Celsus, an ancient Roman building in Ephesus, now part of Selcuk, Turkey.

He could be happy to simply consider himself to be an established expert in international affairs. But for Dr. Stephen Herschler, no amount of “book knowledge” can substitute for immersive experiences when learning about a culture or society. He easily “walks the talk,” engaging in the same real-world learning he encourages his students to pursue.

Dr. Herschler has lived on four continents, speaks three languages, and has taught comparative politics at Oglethorpe for 12 years. “I’ve spent time in Europe, Asia, and Africa, but the Middle East has always been a gap for me,” he admits. And, with the modernization of the Middle East and Islamic culture a vital part of the current global political conversation, it was a poignant time to gain a personal perspective.

This past summer, Dr. Herschler spent 10 days in Turkey with The Atlantic Institute, absorbing the rich culture, historical abundance, and political eccentricity of a country that is suspended between two very different worlds. Turkey has always found itself in an Turkey 20140614_095515identity crisis between the East and the West, creating a unique (and often confusing) cultural climate. This is why The Atlantic Institute, an Atlanta-based nonprofit, strives to bridge the gap between the Middle East and West by facilitating dialogue and fostering understanding. The organization is a derivative of the Istanbul Center, which bolsters the same goals to embrace diversity and build tolerance. This annual excursion of educators and civic leaders from the southeast is an opportunity to inform those who are in a position to share knowledge with students and citizens, hopefully spreading a better understanding of Turkey. Dr. Herschler joined other educators representing Atlanta-area institutions, including Agnes Scott College, Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, and Morehouse College. The educators’ differing perspectives were a compelling part of the journey and, according to Dr. Herschler, reminiscent of the interdisciplinary conversations he witnesses in his Oglethorpe classes. “Hearing questions and comments from the varying disciplines made every day more interesting,” he said.

Indeed, the travelers’ diverse interests sometimes made for spontaneous adventures. While staying in the city of Sanliurfa, a fellow educator expressed interest in Turkish music, prompting their guide to arrange for an outing to a local university. The group was treated to an impromptu concert with classical Turkish instruments.

Turkey 20140612_112519During the 10-day trek, the crew also visited the cities of Istanbul, Gazi Antep, Ankara, Izmir, and Mardin-each of which contains stunning historical sites and manmade marvels. Greek and Roman ruins are scattered throughout the the land, sites of Biblical significance (such as the house of the Virgin Mary and the landing site of Noah’s Ark) are abundant, and of course, monuments such as Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are “must-see” edifices. According to Dr. Herschler, one particularly striking site was Gobekli Tepe, the world’s earliest known place of worship, which outdates Stonehenge by approximately six millennia.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESEvery day, Dr. Herschler and his peers took part in discussions on topics ranging from social reforms in Turkey to interfaith dialogues, and even learned about traditional Turkish carpet making. Each topic was presented from a uniquely Turkish perspective which opened the travelers’ minds to a side of the story they may have never before have heard. Their excursions were led by Turkish guides who were eager to share their knowledge, culture, and history. As Dr. Herschler learned more about the politics and current issues of Turkey, he started to form connections with the course material of the classes he teaches at Oglethorpe, especially Comparative Politics. This course—famous among OU politics majors—surveys a multiplicity of theories on the development and stability of international governments.

Upon his return, Dr. Herschler decided to add a series about Turkey to his syllabus, citing his trip as the impetus. “Before this experience, I possessed ‘book knowledge’ of Turkey and of Islam,” he said, “but I did not understand it fully as a living community. Now I know I can address the topic fairly.”

But, this experience affected much more than the content of his courses, he says. “My new knowledge facilitates connections with students who are interested in that Turkey 20140610_040619 1part of the world.” In fact, even while still in Istanbul, he connected with Oglethorpe student and advisee John Yager ’15, who was interning abroad for through Koç University in Instanbul. The two were able to catch up and talk Middle Eastern politics over an authentic Turkish dinner.

“Now, Turkey is a part of my life,” says Dr. Herschler. “And, I have become more attuned to Turkish culture here in Atlanta.” Asked about his plans to return, he admits he would love to go back to Turkey, but as always, has his sights set on even more international horizons. “I want to go back to Asia. It has been a decade since I’ve visited, and that is quite long enough.”

Christie Pearce ’15 has always had a love affair with the written word and—more recently—political science. She hopes to continue her post graduate education by studying political marketing and campaign strategies for female candidates in the United States.

Oglethorpe Senior Racks Up Hackathon Wins

IMG_8825Haider Khan ’15 doesn’t exactly fit the hacker stereotype. But, the Oglethorpe senior, who’s majoring in chemistry and minoring in computer science, recently bested the competition to win two back-to-back hackathons, as well as a start-up competition, all hosted in metro Atlanta. A testament to Haider’s skills and training, the victories have also been lucrative. So far, Haider and his teammates have won a total of $13,300 in cash and prizes.

In layman’s terms, a hackathon is a competition, usually lasting several days, in which groups of developers and other experts collaborate in computer programming to solve a given issue or challenge. The events typically are kicked off with an introduction to the sponsoring companies and a presentation about challenge the competitors will tackle. The sponsoring companies then give the developers access to their technology to create their solution.

Haider’s first competition was the AT&T Mobile App Hackathon, which focused on real public safety issues. Atlanta emergency medical responders, police officers, dispatchers, fire and rescue teams were onsite to discuss with the developers the challenges they encounter in their jobs. In response, Haider and his team built a hybrid mobile-web app called Safety Net to assist EMS responders in large scale disasters by tracking personnel in real time. They were awarded 1st place in Best Overall Public Safety App, 1st place in Best Use of AT&T’s WebRTC API, and 2nd place in Best Use of Telerik Technology.

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Haider (left) with his one of his Charge Forward teammates after their big win.

The next hackathon, for interactive wearable financial apps, was sponsored by Global Payments Inc. and CaixaBank in Barcelona. “At the second hackathon, the theme was wearables,” Haider explained, “so we were given smart watches and were told to come up with novel solutions to five challenges, ranging from ease of payment, user authentication, security, alternative payments, and design for payment services and transactions.” Haider and his team Charge Forward were awarded the $10,000 3rd prize for their smartwatch application that lets the user change credit card payment method with the flick of a wrist and uses NFC technology to process transactions on the spot.

Most recently, Haider competed in Atlanta Startup Weekend, hosted at Coca-Cola Company headquarters. Teams pitched startup ideas to judges (and an audience) and were evaluated on customer empathy (did their idea address a real problem for real people?), execution (did it work?), and their business model (how would it successfully compete in the market?). Haider’s team, GatherCam, pitched their idea and business plan for a program that would compile photos posted on various social media sites by different people at the same event, such as a wedding. Their idea was a true crowd pleaser and won over the judges, earning them 1st place in judge’s scores, as well as the audience choice award.

Haider (second from left) with his GatherCam teammates during the Atlanta Startup Weekend at Coca-Cola.

Haider (second from left) with his GatherCam teammates during the Atlanta Startup Weekend at Coca-Cola.

After graduation, Haider hopes to continue his efforts in creating innovative technology. He plans to move to California to work in Silicon Valley and eventually to start his own technology company. Haider is confident that the knowledge he’s gained while pursuing his education at Oglethorpe, particularly his minor in computer science, has helped him significantly in his recent accomplishments.

“I highly suggest to Oglethorpe students that if they have a passion for technology to take a computer science minor,” Haider advises. “I personally think the tech industry is extremely fun to work in (and) the applications are endless. We are moving into an economy where knowing how technology works is a currency.”