This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.Rossi Lamont Walter Jr. remembers his experience with Harvard Summer School in 2009 as “a frolicking good time.”It was the Texas native’s introduction to Harvard, and its energy inspired him. “I’ve always been very sensitive to my environment and to things that are contributing to the energy and the mood of the space,” he said. Later, when considering college, Walter was certain that if he attended Harvard, something important would happen and that the people and the environs “would change my life in ways I could not foresee.”That’s just what happened. He will graduate with a concentration he didn’t know existed, a passion for dance he never expected, and a post-College fellowship to spend a year in a country that wasn’t on his radar four years ago.Like many Harvard freshmen, Walter arrived on campus with a list of interests, in his case math, science, the visual arts, dance, and electronic music, among others. But during his sophomore year, the ground began “shifting pretty dramatically,” and he needed to prioritize. School, dance, and his connections with a group of friends topped his list.Walter considered concentrating on neurobiology, but “I remember thinking, ‘Oh, no, no. This is much too planned for me.’” On a whim, he took an introductory class in the history of science, and fell in love.He also fell in love with Jewish history, culture, and religion through his relationships with Alpha Epsilon Pi (“the Jewish fraternity”) and Harvard’s Hillel and Chabad houses. “They provided me with a supportive network of friends and peers who are diverse in their interests and can engage in deep conversation about their experiences and what they are learning today.”With support from the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard, he traveled to Jerusalem last summer to learn about history, and he will leave campus with a secondary concentration in Jewish studies.Walter’s third passion was dance. Energized by Jill Johnson, director of the Harvard Dance Program, he performed in several new works, including “SEESAW,” which will be presented by the Harvard Dance Project at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in June. He was also introduced to Gaga movement language, a contemporary style of dance that originated in Israel, and traveled to Tel Aviv to study with its founder.Johnson called Walter a gifted artist, thinker, dancer, choreographer, and performer.“He has an unlimited desire to explore artistic expression in his dance studies and in areas beyond the field with tireless energy, curiosity, rigor, and focus.”Dancing with Johnson and other students helped Walter combine what he calls his “physical, creative, and academic intellects. It was unlike anything I’d ever done. Jill helped me see what dance had been and could be.”Walter has a busy summer ahead. After graduation, he begins training for “SEESAW,” and then heads back to Dallas to spend time with family and friends. In August, he will travel to North Carolina as a 2014 Byron Fellow to participate in a weeklong session on leadership. He then will head to Israel for a year as a Benjamin A. Trustman Fellow, with support from Harvard’s Office for the Arts.That year will be something of a soul-searching mission. He plans to live in Tel Aviv; practice Gaga; dance; visit synagogues, churches, and mosques, “and the sea.” He seeks adventures, “all with the purpose of putting myself in a different context and allowing a different tree to grow out from within my identity.”A Quincy House affiliate, Walter is reflective when asked to consider what Harvard has meant to him. After a pause, he offers up a single word: people. “I’ve always said that Harvard is just a place, and it’s really the people that make it what it is. Everyone has something to bring to the table.”Accordingly, he envisions a career that combines dancing and choreography with the visual arts, education, social activism, and his desire to help people “articulate what they think is important.”“I expect people to prove me right in a way. I want to help them show me that they do have something to offer, something to bring to the table. I’d like to help people channel that somehow.”Reflecting on the last four years, Walter also offered a note of thanks to his father, Rossi Lamont Walter Sr. ’86.“My father has always been so supportive of me pursuing the things that interest me. He has never pressured me to do anything, including coming to Harvard. For that, I am eternally grateful.”
January 17, 2021
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is teaching all of us about an old floral favorite that needs to be brought back to the garden: cosmos. I see them along Interstate 16 starting around mile marker 98 going north, and the “naturescape,” if you will, is amazing.If you have ever wondered, “Do those specialty license plates pay off?” The answer is yes, and of course, on display. What is even more exciting is that the future is bright for these types of floral plantings. GDOT is revved up on planting pollinators along the highway system, and this should have everyone doing the happy dance.Oddly, this is coinciding with the best butterfly year I have ever seen at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah, Georgia. Here we are in early November and the butterflies are uncountable and bees are everywhere. So while some may be stirring the pot for gloom and doom, it is exciting in Georgia.But let’s go back to the cosmos. Should you somehow be thinking that I am referring to orange cosmos, I am instead touting the Cosmos bipinnatus. This cosmos is native to Mexico and is related to coreopsis and rudbeckias. It is the quintessential cottage garden flower and brings in the pollinators.It is so good that the University of Georgia has put them in their promotional seed packs labeled the “Pollinator Blend.” The pack states the “pollinators will make a beeline to your garden when you plant this beautiful flower mix.”These cosmos have daisy-like flowers 2 to 4 inches wide in shades of burgundy, pink, lilac and white with orange centers, and they are borne on stems of airy, fern-like foliage for weeks on end during the growing season. As GDOT and UGA would testify, these are easy to grow from seed. In fact, they are so easy to grow from seed, you can sow successive plantings to have blooms the entire growing season, especially if you want to have a bounty of flowers for the vase too.While those in Georgia are still enjoying the blooms, almost everyone will be planting next spring. You might get lucky and find nursery plants, but seeds seem to be readily available. Plant your seeds or nursery-grown transplants into loose, well-drained soil. Fertility need not be high for this Mexico native. Seeds germinate in five to seven days with blooms, bees and butterflies in eight to 10 weeks. Thin the seedlings or space transplants 12 to 36 inches apart depending on your variety.Yes, there are varieties like the 1936 All-America Selections Award Winner ‘Sensation’ that tops out in the 4- to 5-foot range. I promise you’ll love it like they did 80 years ago. But if you are into the more diminutive cosmos, then you might want to try the 2-foot-tall ‘Sonata,’ which was a Fleuroselect Award Winner. There are plenty of others to try as well.Although considered an annual, the cosmos gives a perennial-like performance by reseeding, which is perfect for the highway system and your pollinator garden too. These are tough plants, so water sparingly but when you do, water deeply, training those roots to go deep. Your volunteer seedlings may look a little different than what you originally planted when it comes to height, but they will nonetheless be dazzling.Our promotional UGA Pollinator Blend seed packet has purple coneflowers, coreopsis, rudbeckias, liatris and salvias, which should make any bee, butterfly or hummingbird ecstatic. To me, the only other prerequisite might be a white picket fence. That is a little tongue-in-cheek, but it would sure set up a nice photo.If GDOT can have success with cosmos, you can too. I hope you’ll give them a try next spring.Follow me on Facebook under “Norman Winter ‘The Garden Guy.’” Learn more about the gardens at www.coastalgeorgiabg.org/.
September 17, 2020
After a long, successful offseason, USC’s men’s and women’s tennis teams will play their first tournaments of the fall season this weekend. The teams finished last season ranked No. 5 on the men’s side and No. 6 on the women’s and look to improve upon their accomplishments as they embark upon their 2013-14 campaigns.The men’s team will begin their season by heading to Tulsa, Okla. for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championships. This year, three Trojans automatically qualified for the singles draw: senior Ray Sarmiento and juniors Roberto Quiroz and Yannick Hanfmann.Sarmiento enters the season ranked No. 8 in the nation, a career high for him.Last year in the ITA All-American Tournament, Sarmiento advanced to the quarterfinals, but a calf injury in the third set forced him to retire. Hanfmann fell in the first round, while Quiroz, who fought his way through the qualifying rounds to make the main draw, was defeated in the Round of 16.“During the offseason I played a lot of tournaments so I feel sharp and ready to go even if it’s our first tournament of the year,” Sarmiento said. “[I’m] looking forward to competing and seeing my teammates playing well too. We have our whole team pretty much playing All-Americans … so that’s great to see and it shows how deep we are as a team”Three more Trojans earned spots in the qualifying rounds of this year’s tournament: senior Michael Grant and juniors Jonny Wang and Eric Johnson.Though the qualifying rounds might be daunting, Wang promises to keep his head down and work to make it into the main draw like Quiroz did last year.“[A qualifying match is] just like another match. No added pressure,” Wang said. “I’m just focused on doing my best and enjoying the experience because it’s my first time in Tulsa.”This season, the Trojans welcome two newcomers in Robbie Bellamy and Nick Crystal. Though the freshmen won’t be competing in the season-opening tournament, they are bound to make an impact soon, as they have six teammates ranked in the ITA Top 100 to learn from.Some of the USC’s women’s team will head to Berkeley, Calif. to compete in the Cal Nike Women’s Invitational, while others will remain Los Angeles to play in the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades this weekend.Junior Sabrina Santamaria enters the fall season ranked No. 1 by the ITA. Last year, she was knocked out in the Round of 16 at the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships, but bounced back and played a nearly undefeated spring season. She enters this year’s tournament as the top seed.Santamaria also represented the United States at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, this summer, making it to the gold medal match, in which she fell to a player from Japan.“I’ve had some really great competition over the summer,” Santamaria said. “It’s my third season so I have gained a lot of experience and momentum from a really great season last year”Santamaria’s impressive singles play is matched, if not exceeded, by her success with doubles partner junior Kaitlyn Christian, with whom she won the 2012 NCAA Women’s Doubles Championship. Christian and Santamaria, who sit atop the preseason doubles rankings, look to repeat as champions of the Riviera/ITA Women’s All-American Championships this year.While Santamaria and Christian look to continue their dominance, Brynn Boren is simply aiming to make a name for herself at USC. The senior transferred from Tennessee at the end of last season and will make her debut for the Women of Troy this year. Based on her No. 19 preseason singles ranking, it’s safe to assume Boren will immediately contribute to the team’s success.The men’s and women’s teams are stacked with talent and appear poised to continue their perennial success this upcoming season, and this weekend will set the tone for the year.Follow Aubrey on Twitter @aubreykragen
January 11, 2020
Dion Cook led Cal Poly Pomona (20-7) with 22 points, while Larry Gordon scored 13 and grabbed eight rebounds. Cal Poly Pomona shot 29.2 percent from the field in the first half and did bland improvement to 31.8 percent in the second half. Neither team led by more than five points in the first half and the game remained close until the 12-3 in the third quarter run put it out of reach. CAL POLY WOMEN Cal State Bakersfield defeated visiting Cal Poly Pomona 87 51 in the final regular-season game for both schools. The Roadrunners (23-6) are in their first transition year in Division I play and are not eligible to win the conference championship or advance to the NCAA Tournament. Vanessa Dominguez was the only Bronco player to reach double figures, finishing with 11 points and a game high nine rebounds for Cal Poly (8-19). Ashley Moody followed with eight points and and nine assists. Despite the 35 point final margin, the game was close throughout the first half, until the Road Runners opened the second half on an 18 3 run to take a 52 29 lead just six minutes into the period. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Cal State Bakersfield knocked off visiting Cal Poly Pomona 58-49 in both teams’ regular season finale Saturday. Cal State Bakersfield (15-14) led by a narrow 38-34 margin with 12:21 to go in the game just after responding to the Broncos taking their first lead of the second half just minutes before. But the Roadrunners went on a 12-3 run over the next three minutes to pick up their first double-digit lead of the night and they never led by less than eight points the rest of the way.