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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Hoop Grads Face World

By Molly E. Kelly, Crimson Staff Writer

What does Occupy Wall Street have to do with Harvard women’s basketball?

Add to the mix 2011 graduate Jackie Alemany, and the answer becomes much clearer. On Oct. 25, the former Crimson co-captain and guard published a blog entry for the Huffington Post relating the fashion industry and the Occupy Wall Street movement—not bad for someone mere months out of college.

In fact, all four 2011 graduates of the women’s basketball squad—Alemany, Emma Markley, Christine Matera, and Claire Wheeler—are making some pretty impressive strides out in the “real world,” and in light of their basketball careers, their successes hardly seem surprising.

“[Alemany] had a lot of fight in her,” says Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. “She had a non-traditional way of getting things done on the floor, probably because she was so competitive.”

Considering the political spin on fashion in her first HuffPo entry, one could say that Alemany’s nontraditional ways have continued.

“I don’t want to limit myself to fashion,” says Alemany of her desire to eventually transition into journalism. “But when it presents itself in a political context, I really love to write about it.”

For the time being, Alemany says that she will blog about once a month. She notes that the job, which she set up after meeting Arianna Huffington at a dinner, is a great creative outlet that complements her job as a consultant for MasterCard in New York.

“I really enjoy the job,” Alemany says, “but I needed a creative outlet that I was lacking.”

Also in New York is Markley, a former forward who averaged 12.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in her senior season.

“The kind of offense that [Markley] had—you don’t teach that; you just enjoy it,” Delaney-Smith says.

Markley was undoubtedly an enormous presence on the court, but she is making herself known in other arenas as well. The Yorktown Heights, N.Y. native is now working for Digitas as an analyst on the research strategy and analytics team, focusing on Kraft advertisements in particular.

“I have a lot of fun,” says Markley of her job. “It’s a great work environment, and I’m learning a lot.”

As far as future goals go, she is refreshingly open.

“I’m at the point where I’m testing things out and seeing what I do like and what I don’t like,” she comments.

Working on a rather different project is Matera, a former two-time co-captain whose leadership will be heavily missed, according to Delaney-Smith.

With hopes of someday practicing medicine, Matera is working as a research assistant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She’s concurrently studying biochemistry through Harvard’s Extension School, making for a pretty full workload.

But Matera feels that basketball has given her an added advantage.

“Basketball has prepared me for being disciplined,” Matera says. “It was probably harder being a Division I player at one of the top schools in the country [than it is now].”

Also interesting is the way Matera became involved in HIV research. Rather than through a former professor or teaching fellow, Matera says the connection was through none other than the Crimson basketball program.

“It was through my assistant coach, [Kelly Finley],” Matera explains. “She used to babysit for a doctor that works at the Brigham … and she introduced me to [the doctor].”

As a result, Matera now works with the very same doctor. She says that she plans to stick with the research for another year or two and then segue into medical school.

Also planning on returning to school is Wheeler, who co-captained the squad alongside Matera during her junior season. Of the former forward, Delaney-Smith says that despite an injury-ridden career that often left the athlete on the bench, Wheeler left a mark on the program that will not be soon forgotten.

“A lot of players in the program still talk about Claire’s mentorship,” Delaney-Smith affirms.

Post-college, Wheeler is working on Capitol Hill through a one-year fellowship for NETWORK Catholic Social Justice Lobby. As a lobby associate, she says that she meets with congressional staff to discuss economic justice issues; she also examines the effects of congressional budget decisions on low-income families.

But come July 31, 2012—when the fellowship ends—Wheeler will be focusing her attention elsewhere.

“I’m applying to law school for [2012],” Wheeler explains. “I’d like to go into public interest law of some sort.”

Her interests seem natural in light of her past work; the Silver Spring, Md. native spent five months as a research assistant studying the interaction of race, genetics, and public policy.

But perhaps her most formative experience was a summer in Ecuador with WorldTeach.

“This experience really solidified my decision to follow a service-oriented, public interest career path,” she says.

All in all, not too shabby for some brand-new college graduates. It shall be interesting to see what paths current co-captains Brogan Berry and Lindsay Louie embark upon after the 2012 graduation rolls around.

—Staff writer Molly E. Kelly can be reached at mkelly@college.harvard.edu.

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