Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Office of Fellowships and Grants guides students to record breaking year

The year 2011 has proven to be a record year for fellowships and grants at Whitman.

There have been more recipients of fellowships and grants in the 2010-2011 Whitman school year than in any previous year. Additionally, several awards which Whitman students and alumni have received in the past were received in record numbers. Seven Whitman students received fellowships for the French Teaching Assistants Program. Five alumni are National Science Foundation recipients or honorable mentions. For the first time, two Whitman students, both sophomores, received the Killam Fellowship administered by Fulbright Canada. Several students are finalists awaiting decisions, thus the list of recipients of fellowships and grants continues to grow.

Keith Raether, director of the Office of Fellowships and Grants, said his office and the Whitman student body have much to celebrate.

“The trend in our office is more appointments, applicants, and recipients,” he said.

As of March 31 in the 2010-11 fiscal year,  342 Whitman students expressed interest in fellowships and grants. In those nine months, the office scheduled 306 appointments and took in 144 formal applications.

“A recent Chronicle of Higher Education article says it best,” said Raether. “‘Fellowship advising, once an Ivy League trade secret, has become a widespread, competitive profession.’ ”

The Office of Fellowships and Grants now promotes upwards of 80 major fellowship, scholarship and grant programs.

Each of the students interviewed had nothing but the highest of praise for Keith Raether and his efforts, and it is clear that Raether’s expertise and enthusiasm has helped to make so many opportunities within the reach of Whitman students.

First-year Colleen Bell, a recipient of the GlobeMed Summer Fellowship, is one such student. Through GlobeMed’s partnerships with grassroots organizations in Southeast Asia, college students are expected to raise funds to assist efforts for global health, put on educational events   related to global health and travel to work with their partner organization. College students involved with GlobeMed have accomplished a variety of programs to aid their partner organizations, from training health workers, to digging latrines, to helping make pediatric nutrition plans.

“[It’s] basically for people like me who want to do something to make a positive impact on global health but aren’t sure how to do it because we don’t have degrees yet,” she said.

Bell recently began training through online webinars and will be matched with a partner organization over the summer. Next semester, Bell will be working to start a membership and build momentum behind the Whitman chapter. It is a particular honor that Bell received a fellowship as a first-year student, as most of Whitman’s fellowship and grant recipients are upperclassmen.

Senior Ross Eustis, a chemistry major, is a recipient of the Watson Fellowship and plans to study jazz across the world. He said he was inspired by Aisha Fukushima ’09, who had a Watson Fellowship to study hip hop throughout the world.

“I’ve always had a passion for jazz so I’ve never formally sat down and asked, ‘Why is it a permutation of myself? Why is it me?'”

Besides exploring jazz, Eustis had to find a link between the relevancy of his chemistry major to jazz. He found similarities between the two disciplines in both the necessity of acquiring the “language” of vocabulary in both fields as well as the experimental and improvisational nature of chemistry and jazz.

Eustis named his fellowship “Speaking Transnational Dialects of Jazz,” and he plans to explore how jazz has been infused and adapted into other cultures. He will be heading to Sweden in July followed by India, South Africa, Brazil and Japan to meet jazz musicians in each location and play in the jazz clubs in each country as much as possible. Last summer, Eustis spent time at the University of Hawaii and independently navigated his way through the Hawaiian jazz scene. He feels confident that he will be able to join jazz communities internationally as well.

Eustis is unsure whether his life plan will ultimately tend toward his love of chemistry or music. But, with his experience as a Watson fellow, he can certainly fulfill the Watson goal of using his experience “as a springboard into a career or life that is unique.”

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    Aloha Got SoulMay 16, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Sounds like Eustis has a remarkable journey underway! Hawaii’s jazz scene is as unique as the communities he’ll encounter around the world.