Fall 2019 / Around the Green

Celebrating the Sesquicentennial with a Gala, Barbecue & More

Over Homecoming and Family Weekend Oct. 18 to 20, Wilson College threw itself a 150th birthday bash, highlighted by a formal gala featuring a performance by the Children’s Orchestra Society, a renowned, New York City-based orchestra. You can see a photo gallery from the gala here

The celebration kicked off Friday, Oct. 18, as the College welcomed students’ families to campus. That evening, the annual “BBQ and Brew”—held under a tent on the quad—drew hundreds of students and their families, alumni, faculty and staff to socialize and enjoy old-fashioned barbecue with all the fixings and, of course, beer and other refreshments.   

The weekend entertainment featured a number of art and history exhibits and presentations, as well as tours and several athletics games and contests involving alumni and current students. The “Invincibles” vs. the “Defenders” reenacted an 1895 women’s basketball game. “It was a fast-paced game with the alums out for a win,” said Amy Ensley, director of the Hankey Center. They followed 19th-century rules—passing but no dribbling and narrow peach baskets instead of nets—so it took the players some time to adapt. In the end, the students eked out a victory.

The gala, which nearly 300 guests attended, was held Saturday evening in Laird Hall. Wilson friends, alumni, students, and current and former faculty and staff, as well as several representatives from the community, attended in black-tie attire. Larry Shillock, professor of English, was the master of ceremonies. Barbara K. Mistick, the president from 2011 through September of this year, also returned for the event. Mistick was recognized for her service to the College when the academic quad she helped shape during her tenure was renamed the Mistick Quad.

“It was a grand celebration of all that is Wilson, including our 150th birthday,” said A. Richard Kneedler, Wilson College interim president. “This weekend was about celebrating how Wilson makes a difference in the lives of each and every student, faculty and staff member, and alumna and alumnus. There is something truly special about this fine institution.”

The festivities concluded with a service on Sunday at Rocky Spring Presbyterian Church, which Wilson namesake Sarah Wilson and her family attended for many years in the 1800s. The service was officiated by Helen Carnell Eden Chaplain Derek Wadlington.

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Interning with Lions & Rhinos

Student learns valuable life lessons at Pittsburgh Zoo
By Darrach Dolan



Alexis Chick ’20 landed her dream internship this summer—she spent six weeks working with the veterinary staff at Pittsburgh Zoo. She cared for a six-inch leopard gecko, a chinchilla with protruding teeth, a 475-pound lion, a nearly two-ton white rhinoceros and many more of the zoo’s exotic residents.

Chick described it as a life-changing experience.

Her days started with a veterinary team meeting each morning, followed by the routine care of the animals in the intensive care unit and quarantine area (all new animals spend 30 days in quarantine). Chick bonded with a chinchilla that needed to have its teeth ground down. The little animal would bound over to her and eat a specially formulated food from her hand.

When zookeepers noticed their 15-year-old leopard gecko appeared not to be eating, Chick gave it a dose of barium—a white liquid that shows up on X-rays—and took scans at intervals to look for blockages in the digestive tract. Because geckos have a slow metabolism, the barium took more than a week to work its way through. Happily, there were no obstructions and the little animal began eating normally once more.

When a young rhino developed an infection on its tail, the challenge was psychological. The rhino’s mother did not like the veterinary staff and would not let them near her daughter. Chick and a veterinary technician visited them every day with treats for the mother and daughter. After a few days, the mother’s attitude improved enough to allow the team to treat her daughter.

Chick also got plenty of hands-on experience in the routine work of a vet tech. She drew blood from animals, including an anesthetized adult lion. His neck was all mane, and sticking a vein with a needle was very different than doing it with the dogs she had practiced on at Wilson. Nonetheless, she hit the vein the first time.

She tested numerous animals’ fecal samples for parasites. Chick’s lab classes at Wilson had prepared her to identify most of these parasites. She also monitored the vital statistics of animals under anesthesia to make sure they were not in danger. Throughout, she said, full-time staff supervised her and she never felt alone or given unclear instructions.

According to Chick, the most exciting animals she looked after were three lions that had just arrived from a game reserve in Africa. They were kept in quarantine throughout Chick’s six weeks at the zoo. The two females growled and roared whenever a person approached them. “I have never before looked into the eye of an animal that you know would kill you if there weren’t bars between you and it,” Chick said.

The male was a cat cut from a different cloth. He was very food-motivated and his keepers quickly target trained him, meaning he would follow certain orders in return for rewards. This training enables keepers and veterinary staff to get close enough to an animal to perform routine examinations without having to put the animal under anesthesia or put themselves in danger.

Chick learned a lot about animal care and medical treatment at the zoo.
However, her most important lesson—which she describes as life-changing—happened due to a tragic event.

The zoo had two 10-year-old male lions—brothers that had grown up there. One had been diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of three but his seizures had been successfully controlled by anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). The weekend before Chick’s internship was to end, he had a severe seizure, fell and damaged his jaw. The vet managed to sedate him and make him comfortable. The following day Chick helped the veterinary team prepare to do a full exam and determine how serious his injuries were.

They pretreated the lion with an AED to prevent further seizures, then anesthetized him. Chick was monitoring his vitals when he began to seize. The vet increased the dose of AED, but he continued to seize on and off for a further 15 minutes. After examining his injuries and assessing his condition, the vet made the difficult decision that his injuries were so severe, it was best to euthanize him.

Chick recalls how devastated the veterinary staff and zookeepers were. Many had known this lion its whole life and were as emotionally attached to him as owners are to their pets. Yet, they all agreed with the vet’s assessment.

Chick was present for the euthanasia. It was a crucial lesson for her. Chick learned the importance of being able to empathize with others. She understood that an important part of the vet tech’s job is helping owners deal with the loss of an animal, so she was glad she experienced the death of an animal for the first time as an intern rather than after she graduated. “If you can’t deal with animals dying, you can’t do this job,” she said. Although she cried, she learned that she was able to perform her duties even under emotionally trying circumstances. “I was happy I had that experience no matter how sad it was,” she said. “It was super important for me to see I could do that.”

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A Tale of Two Presidents

Interim President A. Richard Kneedler will hand over the reins of the College to Wesley R. Fugate, who will officially become Wilson’s 20th president in January 2020. Kneedler said he is delighted to have had the opportunity to serve the College in an interim capacity and to have such a young and energetic man take on the challenge of building on Wilson’s recent successes.

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Sports Wrap – Fall 2019

Congratulations to the Phoenix field hockey team for winning the CSAC tournament and securing a spot in the NCAA DIII championships—the first NCAA appearance in the program’s history.

The Wilson spring sports season closed out with a number of accomplishments:

With the 2019 fall sports season underway, Wilson’s women’s volleyball and women’s soccer teams got off to solid starts by notching important wins early in the season. Field hockey, men’s soccer and men’s golf have also been in action.

FIELD HOCKEY is looking to return to the post-season for the fifth straight year. After falling short in the Colonial States Athletic Conference championship game last year, the Phoenix are set to make another run this season. BREEANN SHEAFFER ’22 leads the team with 7 points on 3 goals and an assist early in the season.

After a challenging early-season schedule, the MEN’S SOCCER team is primed to make another run at the CSAC championship game. The Phoenix opened conference play Oct. 5 at the College of Saint Elizabeth with a 5-3 win.

The WOMEN’S SOCCER team is off to its best start since 2013 with a 5-3-1 record, including a 1-0 mark in conference play. Early in the season, NOEMI REGAN ’20 leads the Phoenix offense with 8 points on 4 goals.

WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL has already eclipsed its best win total since returning as a varsity sport. The team has collected 8 wins at the midpoint of the season. TIOLEAOAULI POSIULAI ’22 leads the Phoenix with 154 kills.

MEN’S GOLF opened the fall portion of the schedule by competing at the Elizabethtown College Fall Invitational and the Williamsport Country Club Collegiate Invitational. CHAD ZIMMERMAN ’23 and BRENDEN JOHNSON ’22 led the Phoenix in scoring in each match, respectively.

Hockey Down Under Field hockey team members Michaela Singer ’21, Allison Reber ’21 and Jenna Carty ’21 in front of the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia. The three landed down under after Beyond Sports, an international sports tour group, contacted Wilson Field Hockey Coach Shelly Novak ’92, seeking interested players. The students teamed up with others from across the United States to compete against an Australian team. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to go across the ocean to play the sport that I love,” Carty said.

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