June 24, 2009

Students earn top honors, awards

Lewis & Clark students earn national recognition and top academic honors for their work.
  • Mary Davis BA '09
  • Dante Perez, class of 2010
  • James Cotton BA'08
  • Nick Kaufmann BA '09
  • Peter Seilheimer BA '09
  • Brad Elkins, class of 2010
  • Ben Brysacz BA '09
  • Marie LaFortune, class of 2010
  • Megan Mills-Novoa BA '09
  • Katie Walter BA '09

Three students earn Gilman Scholarships

Three Lewis & Clark students received Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships to support their participation in overseas programs during Fall 2009. Designed to supplement Federal Pell Grants for students who are studying abroad, the Gilman International Scholarship Program offers awards of up to $5,000 per student.

The recipients include:

  • Senior Dante Perez, an international affairs and French studies double major, who will participate in the College’s study abroad program in Strasbourg, France
  • Junior Sophie Duba, a Hispanic studies and psychology double major, who will participate in the College’s study abroad program in Valparaíso, Chile
  • Junior Richie LeDonne, a physics and psychology double major, who will who will participate in the College’s study abroad program in India

The Gilman Scholarship was established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000 to support international study and better prepare U.S. students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.


Alum earns Fulbright to teach in Indonesia

James Cotton BA ’08 earned a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Indonesia for the 2009-10 academic year. In addition to instructing high-school-aged students, the Colorado native says he will focus on carrying out projects involving the school and community. Below, the biology major shares his hopes for the coming year and beyond.

What drew you to Indonesia?

Indonesia is a very culturally diverse and interesting country. It is composed of thousands of islands, each of which is different in its own way. The country also offers stunning biological diversity. Additionally, I have never traveled to Asia and felt that the Fulbright would be a great way to do just that. Finally, I think that positive ambassadors from the United States are more important than ever, especially in countries like Indonesia. I am excited to serve in this role.

What have you been up to since you graduated?

After graduating, I went to Brazil to participate in a 100 Projects for Peace project, where I worked at an orphanage building a computer lab, teaching computer lessons, and renovating a water run-off system.  After returning, I participated in a SULI research internship in Washington, where I studied internal injury in anadromous salmon that pass through hydroelectric dams.

How do you think your Lewis & Clark education contributed to your development/growth in seeing yourself as a citizen in a global community?

The student body and faculty really valued experiences abroad. Even as a science major, who was involved in independent research, I was able to take numerous internationally focused courses. The liberal arts approach to learning really fosters gaining perspective from many different angles, just as studying and working abroad do.

What are your plans for the future, and how do you think your Fulbright experience will figure in those plans?

To be 100 percent honest, I do not have a fixed plan for the future at the moment. I know that I want to return to school a year after I return from my Fulbright experience. I am currently trying to decide between pursuing a graduate degree in the sciences and attending medical school. Either path I choose to take will eventually have a teaching component. I hope that my time spent teaching in Indonesia will strengthen my communication skills and fuel my desire to become an effective teacher in the future in whatever field it may be.

In a way, it may seem contradictory that I want to peruse a science-driven career path but I am going to spend the next year teaching English in Indonesia—I guess I can’t shake the liberal arts approach. The Fulbright will provide me with a chance not only to travel to a new exciting region of the world but will allow me to become part of a community—an opportunity that is hard to come by.

View an interactive map of the locations of this year’s Fulbright recipients.


Sociology/Anthropology major wins Fulbright to study in Japan

Inspired by a study abroad trip to Tokyo, Nick Kaufmann ’09 applied for and received a prestigious Fulbright Research Fellowship to study in Japan for the 2009-10 academic year.

“Lewis & Clark exposed me to an incredible range of ideas and ways of understanding the world,” Kaufmann said. “I think our cross-disciplinary, multi-background, international community at LC is a great model of global dialogue and cooperation, and I hope to keep some of that spirit in my research and work in the future.”

Kaufmann, a sociology/anthropology major, will study participatory urban planning and nonprofit and grassroots groups with his Fulbright grant.

“When I studied abroad at Waseda University, during my junior year, I took two classes that inspired my grant proposal: one on the history of Tokyo, and one on anthropological fieldwork and film in the city,” Kaufmann said. “With my Fulbright grant, I’ll be hosted by a Japanese university and will continue to study Japanese, while I take lecture courses and work on my research project.”

Looking ahead, the Portland, Maine native says he isn’t sure yet what steps he will take after his Fulbright experience.

“I don’t know exactly where my research will take me, but I want to keep studying the social ramifications of globalism and urbanization, either in graduate/doctoral programs or some sort of career,” he said. “I’m really excited about my Fulbright as a chance to really dig into these themes and test my academic chops.”

View an interactive map of the locations of this year’s Fulbright recipients.


Fulbright recipient to draw on foreign language skills and global perspective

Mary Davis ’09, a foreign languages and literatures major, will be teaching migrant students in Frankfurt, Germany next year as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant. The Fulbright Program, which operates in more than 150 countries, was created to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges.

Originally from Maribel, WI, Davis is no stranger to travel, having studied abroad in Munich, Germany, and Santiago, Dominican Republic to enrich her coursework in German and Spanish at Lewis & Clark.

“Lewis & Clark has given me not only the opportunity to study two different languages under one major,” Davis said, “but also the chance to study abroad for three semesters in two different countries.”

Davis lived in Munich, Germany for two years of high school before attending Lewis & Clark. As a Third Culture Kid (TCK), Davis joined Lewis & Clark’s diverse and active international student community.

“The support of both the International Student Office staff and my language professors has been integral in contributing to my growth as a global citizen,” she said.

Davis will be the fifth Lewis & Clark Fulbright recipient to teach in Germany in just the past three years. During her year in Germany, she plans to apply to doctoral programs for German literature with the hope of eventually becoming a professor at a U.S. college or university.

View an interactive map of the locations of this year’s Fulbright recipients.


 Fulbright recipient heading to Austria to teach English

Peter Seilheimer ’09 has earned a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Austria. Operating in more than 155 countries, the Fulbright Program is the largest U.S. international exchange program for students, scholars, and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide.

Seilheimer, a native of Houston, Texas, will be teaching in Weiz, Austria for the 2009-2010 academic year. A foreign languages major, Seilheimer has studied German and Russian at Lewis & Clark.

Seilheimer describes studying abroad in Munich, Germany during his junior year as one of the best times of his life, and he says that experience helped prepare him to live and work abroad for the next year.

“The support and encouragement available to Lewis & Clark students who want to go adventuring around the world is astounding!” Seilheimer said. “Studying abroad really pushes you out of your comfort zone to live life to the fullest and experience new things every single day. It was wonderful meeting people and connecting with people from all over the world.”

After his Fulbright experience, Seilheimer says he may remain in education.

“I have been volunteering at the German American School of Portland this semester, which has made me really think about becoming a teacher,” he said. “I plan on enjoying my time teaching English in Austria, looking at graduate schools, and deciding if that is the path I want to follow.”

View an interactive map of the locations of this year’s Fulbright recipients.


International affairs major earns internship at German Defense Ministry

Brad Elkins ’10, a double major in international affairs and computer science and mathematics, will travel to Berlin, Germany for a summer internship with the German Ministry of Defense, or the Bundesministerium der Verteidigung.

“I can’t even put into words how excited I am about this opportunity,” Elkins said. “I feel incredibly fortunate to have landed such a unique position that will allow me to apply the lessons I’ve learned from my studies here at Lewis & Clark.”

Elkins was one of the co-chairs of this year’s International Affairs Symposium, which explored issues of contemporary conflict and the dynamics of modern warfare. Recently elected ASLC President for the 2009-10 academic year, Elkins hopes to pursue a career in international policy, for which his internship will provide invaluable experience.

“I will be working on a task force that is charged with creating recommendations for NATO, EU, US, and German military cooperation,” he said. “Since security policy is mostly done in English, they needed someone who was fluent in English in addition to having an understanding of and interest in international and military affairs.”

The internship will also provide Elkins an exceptional opportunity to live and work abroad.

“I must admit that I am a bit nervous since it will be my first time really living outside the United States, let alone in a country where I don’t speak the native tongue,” he said. “While I’m of course excited to gain experience in security affairs, I am think I am most excited to immerse myself in German culture.”


Student to advocate for public service in D.C. internship

Political science major Ben Brysacz ’09 is heading to Washington D.C. after graduation for an internship with the Public Service Academy, an undergraduate institution currently under development that is modeled after military academies but devoted to the education and preparation of civilian leaders. The academy, which has been endorsed by more than 150 U.S. Senators and Representatives, would offer four years of tuition-free education in exchange for five years of public service following graduation.

“I’m honored to have gotten the job, and everyday I get more excited about working with the folks at the Public Service Academy,” said Brysacz, whose work will include meeting with staffers on the Hill, coordinating grassroots action, and supporting the reintroduction of the Public Service Academy Act in the House and Senate. “I’ve been fortunate to study with faculty at Lewis & Clark who have shaped my own leadership qualities by teaching me how to be smart, pragmatic, and precise about my academic work. Those qualities are useful in any endeavor, but they are indispensable components of good leadership.”

Brysacz, whose leadership experience includes work as a state coordinator of the Obama campaign as well as chairing the Student Academic Affairs Board (SAAB), recently penned an op-ed about the academy in his hometown newspaper, the Arizona Daily Star. An advocate for personal responsibility and public service, Brysacz says he hopes the academy will teach young people about the need for a sustained commitment to service.

“I’ve been given a great deal by society, and now I have the capacity to give back; it seems right and fair that I would return those skills to society through service,” he said. “I think it’s hard for my generation to get excited about mundane tasks that need to be done. We’re romantic about changing the world, but we need to recapture the humility and self-sacrifice required to do the hard work that needs doing. I believe that if we can get Americans inspired by the idea of public service, then we can begin the hard work of getting out of this economic morass, and more importantly, we can cultivate the kind of foresighted leadership that stands a chance of avoiding these crises in the first place.”


 Student earns top national science scholarship

Marie Lafortune ’10 received a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. Lafortune is one of 278 students who earned a Goldwater scholarship around the country. The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,097 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. Twenty-three Lewis & Clark students have received this honor since the program’s inception in 1993. The scholarships support study in the fields of mathematics, engineering, and the natural sciences as preparation for careers in these areas.

Lafortune said her experience at Lewis & Clark has afforded her valuable opportunities to explore scientific research that will benefit her post-graduate scientific pursuits. A chemistry major who has been conducting computational chemistry research with James Duncan, professor of physical organic chemistry, Lafortune is interested in science and medicine, especially cancer research.

“The welcoming, student-focused atmosphere of Lewis & Clark has afforded me the opportunity to develop close relationships with faculty members, which have been both personally and academically rewarding,” said Lafortune. “The interest in my success that my professors have expressed has been very encouraging and has been central to the sustenance of my academic motivation and ambition.”


Student receives coveted fellowship to address hunger, poverty

Megan Mills-Novoa ‘09 received an Emerson Fellowship to support her advocacy work on the connections between hunger and agricultural and environmental issues. The Emerson National Hunger Fellows Program is a social justice program designed to train leaders in the fight to eliminate hunger and poverty. The Emerson Program pairs fellows with grassroots organizations, government agencies, advocacy organization and policy think tanks across the country to collaborate on developing solutions to hunger and poverty.

While Mills-Novoa, an environmental studies major, won’t know where she is headed until mid-June, she is eager to tackle an issue she cares deeply about.

“I am interested in hunger advocacy and the Emerson Fellowship because it provides me the opportunity to examine and address not only the manifestation of hunger but its root causes, which speaks to larger social needs,” Mills-Novoa said. “Additionally, hunger advocacy attracts me because it blends my agricultural background with community engagement, which is essentially the union of my two greatest passions.”

The criterion used to select Emerson Hunger Fellows includes: a commitment to social justice, demonstrated leadership qualities and skills, flexibility and ability to adjust to new situations and creativity and initiative in problem solving. Mills-Novoa said Lewis & Clark has been a great place to build the skills needed for advocacy work. She received a mini-grant through an environmental studies project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to focus on how communities can creatively adapt their agricultural practices to climate change.


Student wins Fulbright to study in India

Katie Walter ‘09 has earned a Fulbright to pursue her academic interests in India. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Walter plans to  conduct research to assess the salience of religious and economic themes in advocating environmental stewardship in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh.

What is it about India that interests you?

Walter: I am interested in nearly all things India. While at LC I have written papers on Indian online matrimonials (ads seeking marriage), Indian Special Economic Zones created to attract foreign investment, French colonialism in India, and recent changes in Indian anti-terrorism legislation. I think my all-encompassing interest in the country has to do with its constant ability to serve up the unexpected.

What about international affairs interests you?
Walter: International Affairs interests me because it calls for high levels of adaptability. IA requires historical knowledge, theoretical understanding and an ability to notice when these things are exerting influence over a  particular situation. It also requires the ability to perceive the motivations of others. All three of these things must be considered simultaneously in a multitude of circumstances.

After completing my Fulbright research, I plan to pursue a graduate degree in South Asian Studies at the University of Washington. I am not sure what profession I will eventually find myself in given my wide-range of interests.

How has Lewis & Clark contributed to your development/growth in seeing yourself as a citizen in a global community?

Walter: At LC, I have gained knowledge of myriad issues affecting life across the globe and the parts that I may play in perpetuating or ameliorating these issues. The names of a few courses I have taken clearly demonstrate the variety of issues I have learned about: Global Resource Dilemmas, The Politics of Public Memory, and Media Across Cultures. History,Art and International Affairs classes that explored the legacies of Imperialism, colonialism and racism were also important. My first trip to India with the LC Overseas Study program in Fall 2007 allowed me to become personally involved in several efforts at improving life - some were rooted locally, others nationally, and yet others internationally. This led me to return to India as an intern/volunteer last summer. My experiences there gave me the idea and the contacts necessary to win both the Kathryn Wasserman-Davis 100 Projects for Peace grant for 2009 and my Fulbright research grant. Both of these grants are being pursued with the intention of improving the lives of Indians living in and near Vrindavan and, hopefully, beyond.

View an interactive map of the locations of this year’s Fulbright recipients.

UPDATE: Walter also received a prestigious grant from philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis’s 100 Projects for Peace initiative, which will support her work in creating an artisan collective for impoverished women in Vrindavan, India. Learn more about Walter’s project in this Newsroom story.