Notable Alumnae and Alumni
Wells graduates go on to exciting work in modern fields. Here are some examples.
The Dynamic Duo: Academics and Athletics
On the field, Kate Lankin Frederick ’04 and her team members proudly bore their red and white Wells Express uniform. But when Kate wasn’t practicing, learning new tactics, or suiting up for a lacrosse or soccer game, Kate was an academic and biology major. At Wells, academia and athletics can go hand-in-hand—nearly 30 percent of the student body is student-athletes.
As a student-athlete, Kate was named to the dean’s list, was a member of the women’s soccer and lacrosse team for all four years and received several athletic distinctions including being named to the all-conference team for soccer and a North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) scholar-athlete. In 2004, Kate had the opportunity to present her senior thesis poster at the 2004 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at Purdue University in Indianapolis, Indiana. Today, Wells students continue to present their research at NCUR, which recognizes the top creative and research work done by undergraduates.Since graduating, Kate went on to earn her M.S. in fisheries from the University of Rhode Island, her master’s thesis was published in the Journal of Marine Biology, and she was invited to present her graduate school research at the Wells College Science colloquium held every Friday throughout the academic year. Since then she’s been working as a marine biologist at Local Ocean LLC. She was the first woman and first American biologist hired at the company. She recently started her own dog walking business called Dog Walks of Canaan. Her rescue pup is named Leah.
Working for the President
Not many people can say on their resume that they’ve served and worked for the President of the United States, but from the get-go—Faith Ryan Whittlesey— Wells College Class of 1960, was on a path to being one of these few people. Faith graduated from Wells with a B.A. degree cum laude in history and a full-tuition scholarship to the law school at the University of Pennsylvania.
After earning her J.D. degree and being admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar, she started her career in various legal and government positions including two-terms on the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and had tremendous success as county commissioner of her home county of Delaware, where she was the highest elected woman county commissioner in Pennsylvania.
Faith’s career high came when she was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to be the United States Ambassador to Switzerland twice and to work in the West Wing of the White House on the senior staff as President’s Reagan’s assistant for public liaison. For her service, she was awarded the Reagan Revolution Medal of Honor.Currently, Faith is the chairman emeritus to the American Swiss Foundation and most recently received a lifetime achievement award from the American Swiss Foundation and published her book “Backwards in High Heels: Faith Whittlesey, Reagan’s Madam Ambassador in Switzerland and the West Wing.”
Making the Scene
Chelsea Eriksen ’11 (English: Creative Writing) knows her music. For years, she’s been following up-and-coming and established bands, tearing through record after record while keeping an ear out for new releases and fresh acts. While at Wells, she served as music editor for The Sycamore magazine and held a summer internship with the Ithaca radio station WVBR. So it’s no surprise that since graduating, she’s put in the work to make herself a part of the music scene.
Since receiving her degree, Chelsea has built her expertise and experience through internships with Big Hassle Media and Electric Lady Studios in New York City, and she's currently working as a publicist at Effective Immediately PR, still in the City. At the same time, she’s been contributing writing for RELIX, the Deli, and Glide magazines, listening to new records, attending concerts and festivals, interviewing musicians, working with them on promotional materials, and establishing professional relationships with bands and their managers.
Those who’ve met Travis Niles ’09 (History) know him as approachable, insightful and easygoing—traits that he learned to use to work with others during his year as Wells’ head resident advisor, two-year term as Collegiate Trustee and member of the FARGO Board. The opportunities Travis took to develop these skills have also contributed to his continuing success in newer environments. For example, he spent his first two years after graduating working with youth and community services organizations under the provenance of AmeriCorps’ VISTA projects, directing volunteers in the organization’s programs.
Today, Travis continues to support worthwhile causes as communications & IT manager for the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, handling outreach and marketing efforts for the organization and assisting with fundraising and other development work. And in his spare time, he’s building on another skill developed at Wells as a member of the Concert Choir and the Henry’s VIIIs a capella group—singing with and serving on the board for the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra and Choir.
A Passion for Packaging
When Julie Burnet '72 (Romance Languages) graduated from Wells with a degree in Romance Languages, many asked what she could do with it. She responded by developing a strong interest in international business that led to a remarkable career. Combining her education with a willingness to try new things and a passion for the nuances of packaging design, Julie found her place in a male-dominated industry and eventually founded her own company, Yellow Dog Packaging. Julie's knack for forming new business relationships in international markets and her stick-to-it nature soon carried Yellow Dog into international markets and created a opportunity to work with the Apple corporation on the packaging for one of their revolutionary products. She applied her ability to combine unique design ideas with innovative materials to the project and created a box like no other, recognizable in households across the country.
Julie recently retired from the packaging industry, her company now worth over $100 million, and spends her time following other lifelong passions by volunteering with Youth Homes and Guide Dogs for the Blind.