The Colgate Scene
July 2001
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People on the go

Camp Starfish
At first glance, Camp Starfish in Brewster, Massachusetts, looks like any other children's camp.

     "But if you look closely," Executive Director Deb Berman '95 points out, "you'll see that each child is swimming with their own swim counselor, the soccer game is ten children and eight staff members, and three counselors and seven campers are doing arts and crafts."

     A unique one-to-one camper-to-staff ratio allows Camp Starfish to serve children, often from abusive and impoverished backgrounds, who have emotional, behavioral and learning problems, in a highly structured, predictable program that readily helps them build self-esteem and overcome difficulties.

     "Many are used to being told that they're bad," Berman explains. "We do a lot of catching the children at being good. Here you'll see children being told they're doing a good job because they're sitting quietly. Or, a child may dip his foot into the water. He's going to get a round of applause, because he's been afraid of the water. For many, it's the first time they're enmeshed in a structure that is designed so completely for their safety and success." Campers are referred by an agency, counselor or other professional and are selected through an application process and interview.

     Berman, who majored in education and sociology, says she "got passionate about dealing with this population of children at Colgate, both in and outside my classes." She worked with emotionally disturbed children at Ramapo Anchorage Camp in Rhinebeck, N.Y., for several summers.

     "I did my senior thesis on my experiences at Ramapo, and my last sentence said that we need more programs like camps to provide children with safe, structured environments in the summertime to help overcome social problems. At that point, I set a goal to start something on my own."

     Berman originally created Camp Starfish as a project in business school at Boston University; it immediately became a reality. Co-founder Richard Hobish was a board member at Ramapo, and it took two years to complete the start-up phase, which included forming a board of directors, obtaining 501(c)3 nonprofit status, securing a location, recruiting staff, marketing the camp, and raising funds.

     "I was really vocal and aggressive about saying I needed help," Berman remembers, "and I was super-excited. I think that was contagious to people." Financial support comes from individuals as well as foundations and corporations.

     Camp Starfish opened last summer, with two 3 1/2-week sessions that served more than 90 campers and attracted significant media coverage. Three Colgate students work-ed as counselors: Brandon Malmberg '03, who did a January internship in the winter office in Boston and returned this summer in a supervisory capacity, Kelly Roos '02, and Jessica Parshley '01. Johanna Poch '03 is a counselor this summer.

     Although maintaining a work-life balance is a challenge, the successes provide much satisfaction for Ber-man. An unsolicited letter from a mother detailing the transformation of her son, who has an attachment disorder, into a child willing to cuddle, struck a chord.

     "It's been an amazing experience."

     For more information, call 617-369-0900, visit or e-mail RAC

Schupf Fellow
Janna Pistiner '01 has an excitement for learning that has already taken her around the globe. Named Colgate's first Schupf Fellow, she will spend the next three years in England earning a graduate degree in earth science at St. Anne's College of Oxford University.

     Not one to limit her horizons, the Poughkeepsie native distinguished herself at Colgate through impressive diligence and motivation. The interdisciplinary-minded student double-majored in chemistry and education, and she went one step further, obtaining permission to work with Karen Harpp, assistant professor of geology, to pursue her interest in geochemistry for her senior thesis. Pistiner assisted Harpp, who describes her as "fearless" in tackling new concepts, in field research on the origins of Galapagos Islands, and did collaborative research with Macalester College students.

     In her education work, Pistiner traveled on a fellowship with Heidi Ross, associate professor of educational studies, to study girls' schooling in rural China, and participated in a People to People program on women in society and education in Cuba. She received high honors on her education thesis on the concept of resistance in schools worldwide.

     "Janna brings to her study of chemistry and education the best of what Colgate wants to see in its students, and she is unwilling to narrow her boundaries," says Ross.

     Pistiner, who was a New York State Rhodes Scholar finalist, helped design Colgate's science outreach program to local schools, held an internship with local orthopedic surgeon Ivan Gowan '74 and worked in New York at the Museum of Natural History's education department. Through it all, finding ways to combine science and education and share her knowledge with others became one of her life's goals. Pistiner also found time to row on crew, play water polo, perform in flute ensemble and orchestra and be involved in the Thurber Society. An Alumni Memorial Scholar, she was inducted into Phi Eta Sigma and Konosioni.

     The Schupf Fellowship, created through the generosity of trustee emeritus Paul J. Schupf '58, covers all educational and travel costs as well as some living expenses. Pistiner leaves for Oxford in October. She will work on a lithium isotope study of Hawaiian basalts under professor Gideon Henderson of the earth sciences department, building on the interest she developed on the Galapagos trip.

     "I'm most looking forward to being immersed in that learning environment, being with keen minds who are into talking about their research as much as doing it."

     Pistiner ultimately hopes to use "the power of my education to

     identify and address the factors that prevent the economically disadvantaged and women from entering the fields of physical science.

     "I love my research and I might want to teach, but I'm leaving everything open," says Pistiner of her plans for the future. "I love it all and could see myself doing it all." RAC

Mosah Fernandez-Goodman with boss and author Stephan Schiffman SOF '01
The life of a first-year intern

by Mosah Fernandez-Goodman '04

When I ask my friends what they are doing this summer, most of them respond, "I am interning." I ask them if that means they will be getting coffee, carrying boxes and answering phones. The majority of them say, "yes." That is hardly my summer internship experience.

     I am interning for D.E.I. Management Group (a sales training firm in New York City). Stephan Schiffman (the company's president and author of 24 business books) was ranked as America's number one corporate trainer. He is also the father of Jennifer Schiffman, who graduated in May.

     The company's philosophy is "helping people do what they do better." I am learning how to do that. My responsibilities at D.E.I. include assisting the creative services department, the marketing department and the teams of cold callers, sellers and sales trainers.

     I used to think that "selling stuff" simply meant having a winning personality and knowing how to con people. I was entirely wrong. Being a salesman requires having a strong foundation in sales research, sales techniques and communication skills. Mr. Schiffman is serving as my mentor to the business world and is helping to educate me on these business principles.

     After my experience this summer, I am going to be one step ahead of many of my fellow interns. I will have developed the communication and research skills necessary for the business world and will have gained a tremendous amount of "technological know-how" from my experience in working on the company's website (check it out at to see the contributions I have made).

     Combining the skills and discipline I have developed in the classroom and on the field (I play football) at Colgate with my interning experience at D.E.I., I will be much more capable as a sophomore and at my next internship.

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