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Hampshire College Alumni

30+ Examples of Alumni Excellence

Hampshire alumni take on challenges—and the world—with skills and abilities that work across fields and in any environment. An education shaped by a student's own interests produces remarkable results:

  1. Ian Spalter was named to Fast Company's 2013 list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business. Spalter is UX lead and manager for YouTube, and was formerly director of design and experience at Foursquare.


  2. Lupita Nyong'o received the 2014 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Twelve Years a Slave. Nyong'o is both a filmmaker and an actress; her documentary In My Genes (her Hampshire Division III film) was selected as the opening event of the 2010 touring New York African Film Festival.


  3. Guitar Zero by neuroscientist Gary Marcus was #2 on Brain Picking's "Best Music Books of 2012" list. Marcus, director of the NYU Infant Language Learning Center and professor of psychology at New York University, is also author of Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind, The Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought, and The Algebraic Mind: Integrating Connectionism and Cognitive Science.


  4. Journalist Seth Freed Wessler was awarded a 2012 Hillman Prize for his "Shattered Families" investigation, which examined deportation and child welfare.


  5. Physicist Lee Smolin is one of the world's leading gravitational theorists and author of The Life of the Cosmos, Three Roads to Quantum Gravity, and The Trouble with Physics.


  6. Author Leah Hager Cohen's nonfiction works include Train Go Sorry: Inside a Deaf World; Behind the Curtain of an American Community Theater; and Without Apology: Girls, Women, and the Desire to Fight. Her novels include Heat Lightning; Heart, You Bully, You Punk; House Lights; and The Grief of Others.


  7. Josh Goldman, founder and CEO of Australis Aquaculture, is an internationally recognized leader in the sustainable seafood movement.


  8. Jonathan Wright, who has dedicated his career in business to environmentally sustainable building, received a 2012 GreenBuilder "Home of the Year" Award.


  9. Melissa Hoffer represented detainees held at Guantánamo and is among the attorneys who contributed powerful personal narratives to the book The Guantánamo Lawyers.


  10. Research scientist Walter Greenleaf specializes in neuro and cognitive rehabilitation. Viewed as a founder of the medical virtual reality field, he is considered a pioneer in the application of virtual environments for treatment of a wide range of neuromuscular, cognitive, and behavioral disorders. Greenleaf is a senior research scholar and director for the Mind Division at the Stanford Center on Longevity.


  11. Artist E.V. Day's installations appear in prominent museums and galleries throughout the United States and internationally.


  12. Work by artist and filmmaker Rhys Ernst was featured in the prestigious Whitney Biennial in 2014.


  13. Will Reiser won a 2011 Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay for 50/50.


  14. Gary Hirshberg founded Stonyfield Farm, the world's leading organic yogurt producer. Hirshberg speaks frequently on sustainability, climate change, the profitability of green and socially responsible business, organic agriculture, and sustainable economic development. He is the author of Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World.


  15. Nancy Grimm, a past president of the Ecological Society of America, is a senior sustainability scientist at the Global Institute of Sustainability, and co-directs the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research Project.


  16. Dr. Miriam Cremer founded Basic Health International, a leading voice in the fight to eradicate cervical cancer in El Salvador.


  17. Actor Liev Schreiber is recognized for his stage, film, and television work. The Tony and Obie Award recipient has been called "the foremost Shakespearean actor of his generation in America." Currently starring in the Showtime series Ray Donovan, Schreiber was nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the title character.


  18. Paul Sternberg was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2009. His research has helped develop new insight into the molecular circuitry of cancer cells.


  19. Dr. Vanessa Northington Gamble is one of six distinguished women who received 2009 Women Leaders in Medicine Awards from the American Medical Student Association.


  20. Florentine Films has produced some of the most honored documentaries ever made:

    • Roger Sherman's documentaries have been honored with a host of accolades, including a Peabody Award, an Emmy Award, and two Academy Award nominations. Sherman and chef Michael Solomonov recently produced a television series for PBS exploring Israel through its food.
    • Buddy Squires is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker and Emmy-winning director of photography. In 2007 he was awarded the International Documentary Association's Outstanding Documentary Cinematography Award (for career achievement).
    • Ken Burns films include the Civil War (two Emmys, two Grammys, and a Peabody), Baseball, Jazz, The War, National Parks, and The Dust Bowl. In 2008, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences honored Burns with a Lifetime Achievement Award. His film The Central Park Five won the 2012 New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Non-Fiction Film (Documentary).


  21. Documentary filmmaker Rob Epstein's credits include two Academy Awards, for The Times of Harvey Milk and Common Threads. His recent films include Howl and Lovelace.


  22. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes is the author, most recently, of Garbology. His best-selling books include Eco Barons, Force of Nature, Monkey Girl, No Matter How Loud I Shout, Mississippi Mud, Mean Justice, and Baby E.R.


  23. Jon Krakauer is the author of Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, Into Thin Air, Into the Wild and Under the Banner of Heaven.


  24. Former Alaska Writer Laureate Nancy Lord's latest book, Rock Water Wild: An Alaskan Life, is a collection of environmental essays.


  25. No Man's Land, a collection of essays on race by Eula Biss, won the Graywolf Prize for nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. Her latest book is On Immunity: An Inoculation.


  26. Jeff Sharlet wrote C Street, The Family: Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, and Sweet Heaven When I Die. He co-authored Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the ten best religion titles of 2004.


  27. Lê Thi Diem Thúy, award-winning poet, novelist, and performer, and author of The Gangster We Are All Looking For, was named a 2008 USA Fellow in literature.


  28. Jeffrey Hollender co-founded Seventh Generation, the country's largest distributor of nontoxic, all-natural cleaning, paper, and personal care products.


  29. Karinne Keithley received the 2011 New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Production for Montgomery Park, or Opulence. Commonly known as the Bessie, the award is the dance world's equivalent of the Oscar. Jen Rosenblit received the 2014 Bessie for Emerging Choreographer for her work Natural Dance.


  30. Aaron Lansky, recipient of a 1989 MacArthur Fellowship, founded the National Yiddish Book Center, which has in the past three decades rescued a million endangered Yiddish books. He is the author of Outwitting History.


  31. Playwright Naomi WallaceOne Flea Spare, Slaughter City, and The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek – was a 1999 MacArthur Fellowship recipient. She recently won the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes for literary achievement.


  32. Artemis A.W. Joukowsky is a socially conscious venture capitalist, entrepreneur, and nonprofit activist. Joukowsky's documentary film, Two Who Dared, told the previously unknown story of Waitstill and Martha Sharp, who worked to assist refugees during the Holocaust. As a result of Joukowsky's film, the Simon Wiesenthal Center awarded the Medal of Valor to the Sharps.

Awards and Higher Degrees

Hampshire graduates have won numerous prestigious academic fellowships, including 15 Fulbrights in the past 10 years alone.

Interested in history? According to data compiled for the most recent national Weighted Baccalaureate Origins Report (2000-2004), Hampshire College is number one in the percentage of its graduates who have earned Ph.D.s in history, when figures are adjusted for institutional size.

That same report shows Hampshire at 16th in percentage of graduates who have earned Ph.D.s in sociology, and 20th in anthropology.

Hampshire is 30th in the percentage of its graduates who have earned Ph.D.s in all fields combined. Data for the Report is drawn from two sources, the National Science Foundation and the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium.

Hampshire College is among the top 50 schools whose graduates went on to receive a Ph.D. in science or engineering, according to a 2008 report by the National Science Foundation.


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