‘Positively Pivotal’

Graduating seniors honor the professors who’ve guided them

Photos by Shana Sureck

Trinity professors are teachers, mentors, advocates, and inspirations to students. They help students succeed at Trinity and beyond, and, in so doing, they often shape lives. As we celebrate the Class of 2019, The Trinity Reporter highlights the bonds between 10 seniors and their most influential professors.

Tshion Assefa
Connecticut General Insurance Corporation Scholar
Garland, Texas
Major: international studies: African studies; minor: urban studies

Seth Markle
Associate Professor of History and International Studies

“Professor Markle has taught me the importance of discipline in the learning process and of creativity to uncover the stories of the past. While systems of inequality work to erase the complex histories of marginalized societies, I have learned that as a scholar, I can highlight their struggles and provide a platform to build a more just society.”

Jessica Duong
Illinois Scholar
Lake Bluff, Illinois
Majors: chemistry, history; minor: marine studies

Michelle Kovarik
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

“Professor Kovarik has been positively pivotal in my personal development. She’s at the cutting edge of science teaching and fully invested in supporting the successes of her students—truly an irreplaceable force at Trinity.”

Elizabeth Patino
D&L Scholar, Class of 2019 Paul E. Raether ’68 Scholar
Holmes, New York
Majors: Hispanic studies, international studies: global studies; minor: Arabic

Diana Aldrete
Visiting Assistant Professor of Language and Culture Studies

“Professor Aldrete is an invaluable member of the Trinity community. I am fortunate to have a genuine relationship with a professor who engages in passionate class discussions and is deeply invested in my education and success. Her literature courses and mentorship have helped cultivate my growth as a student and my self-awareness as an individual.”

Michael Zarra
Joslin Family Scholar
Cheshire, Connecticut
Major: neuroscience

Alison Draper
Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Science and the Interdisciplinary Science Program

“Alison Draper is the reason I came to Trinity and the reason I stayed. She took me as I was and told me I could be more, pushing me into opportunities I felt unworthy to pursue until I could envision a different life for myself. Thank you for changing my world.”

Simran Sheth
Swiss Reinsurance Company Scholar
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Majors: computer science, mathematics

Ewa Syta
Assistant Professor of Computer Science

“Professor Syta has been supportive of my decisions and guided me on the right track, in computer science and in life. They say women empower each other, and what is better than two #WomenInTech? She taught me to be a better student and a better person, and I am ever grateful.”

Luke Duros
Illinois Scholar
Willmette, Illinois
Major: engineering

John Mertens
Professor of Engineering

“Since meeting Professor Mertens my first year, I have learned more from him than any other professor I can think of. Not only did he thoughtfully teach engineering concepts but also invaluable lessons about professionalism and a variety of other topics. He remains one of the most insightful people I know.”

Nat Bush
Josh P. Kupferberg Scholar
Waterford, Connecticut
Major: French/neuroscience

Dan Lloyd
Brownell Professor of Philosophy

“Professor Lloyd has inspired me to always search for new ways to analyze the same data in my research, and he has been kind and motivational in pushing me to continue being productive with my thesis writing and pursuit of jobs after graduation.”

Nikola Kostic
Isaac Toucey, Hon. 1845, Scholar; Daniel Burhans, Hon. 1831, Scholar
Belgrade-Zvezdara, Republic of Serbia
Major: economics, international studies: global studies; minor: Italian

Xiangming Chen
Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban Global Studies and Sociology and Dean and Director of the Center for Urban and Global Studies

“Dean Chen has continuously inspired me to strive for academic excellence. Our research projects challenged me intellectually and allowed me to learn from his expertise on China’s affairs. I have enjoyed our conversations, which further encourage me to consider pursuing a career path closely related to international economics and China’s development.”

Alex Steel
Weston, Massachusetts
Major: theater and dance, concentration in acting; minor: writing, rhetoric, and media arts

Irene Papoulis
Principal Lecturer in the Allan K. Smith Center for Writing and Rhetoric

“Irene Papoulis has always been in my corner. Whether it was helping me adjust to life at college, inspiring me to venture further with my writing, or listening to me when I’ve struggled, I have always been able to rely on her for advice. She’s helped me to make better sense of the world we live in, and I’m lucky to have her as a mentor.”

Luke Mayer
Nancy T. Hector ’78 Family Scholar
Morristown, New Jersey
Major: political science

Reo Matsuzaki
Assistant Professor of Political Science

“Professor Matsuzaki helped me in countless ways, and our discussions will have a lasting impact. His passion for the subject reflected the questions he asked, and he always knew how to challenge me into looking at both sides of any argument. We have a great relationship I will truly miss.”