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2011 Fellowship and Scholarship Winners Announced

Apr. 04, 2011


Thomas J. Watson 2011-12 Fellowship

Joanna Johnson and Allison Swaim

The Thomas J. Watson Foundation awards 40 grants nationwide to college seniors to pursue their unique passion or dream for a year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States. Each fellow will receive $25,000 for 12 months of travel and exploration.

Joanna Johnson will graduate in May with a double major in biology and French. In addition to her academic aspirations, the three-time NCAA Cross Country All-American has distinguished herself as one of the greatest runners in Oberlin College history. A native of Chico, Calif., Johnson has studied abroad in Spain, where she worked in a proteomics lab. During her studies abroad, she discovered it was difficult to seek out running communities and women athletes with the same dedication to running. That search led her to write a business plan for Women Running Around the World (WRAW), a project that would involve her training with various female runners across the globe, interviewing them about their running experiences, and writing their stories to promote running as a means for empowerment.

Allison Swaim has been pursuing her passion for radio as a medium for storytelling and social change. A Comparative American Studies major with a minor in environmental studies, Swaim spent a winter term working at Radio Victoria, a community radio station in El Salvador. With a stipend from Oberlin’s Creativity & Leadership fund, she worked as an intern for Oberlin Street Law, an organization that teaches practical law to high school students, in which she organized a group of high school students to host a weekly radio show featuring music, news, and on-air interviews. With the Watson fellowship, Swaim plans circumnavigate the globe on cargo freight ships, spend time in port cities (Rotterdam, Singapore, Shanghai, Panama City), and gather stories along the trade routes. She wants to record sounds, interviews, and photos and produce audio and photo documentaries throughout the year—putting a human face to global trade. Swaim is originally from Salisbury, NC.

Joanna Johnson
(photo: Jennifer Manna)

Allison Swaim
(photo: Jennifer Manna)



Harry S. Truman Scholarship

Emily Hale Baker-White

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation selected 60 scholars from more than 600 candidates. Each scholarship provides up to $30,000 for graduate study. Truman scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government.

Emily Hale Baker-White is a politics and law and society major from Williamstown, Mass. She plans to earn a juris doctor degree and continue her advocacy for at-risk youth. She has worked with public high schools, community organizations, and local governments to increase civic and academic opportunities for socioeconomically disadvantaged teenagers. Baker-White’s interest in this work springs from personal experience, she says. Attending high school in an area with a stark socioeconomic divide, she saw “the unjust disadvantages kids from poor, uneducated families face in public education.” Baker-White plans to apply to several law schools, including those at Yale, Stanford, Harvard, New York, and Georgetown universities. She will base her decision on which to attend on the strength of the school’s public interest and public service opportunities.

Emily Hale Baker-White



Goldwater 2011-12 Scholarship

Sujata Murty, scholarship winner

Benjamin Altheimer and James "Stephen" Williams, Honorable Mention

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program awarded 275 scholarships to undergraduate sophomores and juniors for the 2011-12 academic year. Each scholarship covers eligible expenses up to $7,500 annually for undergraduate tuition, fees, books, and room and board. Goldwater Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,095 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

Sujata Murty is a junior from Wisconsin who is double majoring in biology and geology. At Oberlin, she has pursued research with Professor Dennis Hubbard in the Department of Geology. She has also done research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. In her research, she used isotope ratios in corals to investigate past sea surface temperatures. Her plans are to pursue a PhD in marine geochemistry and eventually a career in paleoclimatology.

Benjamin Altheimer is a junior from North Carolina majoring in chemistry and physics. He has done research at Oberlin with Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Michael Nee and Associate Professor of Chemistry Manish Mehta. Altheimer’s current research with Mehta is focused on the study of unusual organic co-crystal structures using solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance and x-ray diffraction. After Oberlin, he plans to pursue a PhD in physical chemistry.

James "Stephen" Williams is a junior from Tennessee majoring in biology and mathematics. Williams has done research in population genetics with Visiting Assistant Professor Angela Roles at Oberlin, and also at the Michigan State University Biological Station. At Oberlin, he used molecular techniques to study the population of invasive crayfish. His post-Oberlin plans are to pursue a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology.

Sujata Murty

Benjamin Altheimer
(photo: Gary Cohen '11)

James "Stephen" Williams
(photo: Gary Cohen '11)



Udall Scholarship

Abby Halperin, Jonathan Sidney and David Fisher

Jason James, Honorable Mention

The Udall Foundation has awarded 80 scholarships on the basis of commitment to careers in the environment, health care or tribal public policy; leadership potential; and academic achievement. This highly qualified class of Udall Scholars was selected from 510 candidates nominated by 231 colleges and universities. Each scholarship provides up to $5,000 for the scholar’s junior or senior year.

Abby Halperin is a third-year biology and environmental studies major from Berkeley, California. Her career goal is to research climate change in national parks and engage visitors through outreach and education. She is currently researching the role of older forests in the carbon cycle and plans continue this research as an honor's project next year.

On campus, Halperin has been involved in many sustainability efforts, primarily through her role as a CDS recycler. She was involved in an initiative to eliminate the sale of bottled water; illustrated and co-authored the Little Green Book; and worked on post-consumer compost solutions and lighting efficiency improvements. She is also very interested in activism through transient artwork.

When not studying, she enjoys competing on the Oberlin College equestrian team, knitting, painting, and bird watching. She is currently spending a semester in South Africa studying savanna ecology and conservation.

Jonathan Sidney is a third-year politics major from Piedmont, Calif. He is active in the movement against mountaintop removal in Appalachia, having spent several months living in West Virginia in support of a campaign of civil disobedience to mining practices. His role in legal support for the campaign is ongoing; more information about the legal situation facing anti-MTR activists can be found at Sidney’s particular academic interests lie in studying anarchist and postmodern political theory, social movements and revolutions, and the relationship between advanced capitalist society and ecological destruction, among other areas. He is a member of Oberlin EarthFirst! and Students for a Free Palestine, and hopes to spur a greater sense of urgency among the Oberlin community about the destruction of the world through practices such as mountaintop removal mining and fracking. He enjoys climbing, playing soccer, and relaxing in the Arboretum.

David Fisher is a third-year environmental studies and Jewish studies major from Boston. Fisher was instrumental in planning Oberlin’s new sustainability themed residence hall, served as treasurer of the Fairchild Dining Cooperative, enjoys leading Hillel’s Shabbat services, and has become a long-time organizer for Immerse Yourself In Service alternative breaks. He works in the Environmental Studies Department and the Bonner Center for Service and Learning. Fisher is now focusing his energies on creating a new Jewish/interfaith service organization on campus. He received a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant for the summer of 2011, equipping him to build the curriculum and connections necessary for offering young people deep and meaningful service opportunities in the future. The organization will bring highly needed volunteers to the Appalachian region, with a three-part goal of direct material aid, teaching ecological awareness, and fostering pluralism.

Jason James is a third-year creative writing and environmental studies major from Denver. He is a three-year varsity pitcher for the Oberlin College baseball team. In addition to athletics, James is a volunteer at George Jones farm and a tutor in the creative writing and biology departments. He is a member of Slow Food Oberlin, the Oberlin Coal Workgroup, and Keeper of the Mountains Foundation. In his free time, he enjoys writing and acting in film, taking long hikes throughout the western United States, and flying stunt kites. He recently returned from studying abroad at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, where he was a member of the ultimate Frisbee team.

Jonathan Sidney
(photo: Gary Cohen '11)

David Fisher

Jason James
(photo: Gary Cohen '11)



Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs

Kyla Moore and Shayne Wells

The Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs is a prestigious training program that places talented graduate-level students in community organizations to observe, work, and evaluate an assigned project, while simultaneously learning skills to develop as well-rounded leaders in public affairs. The full-time, nine-month program offers training in corporate, media, nonprofit, labor, political campaigning, and policy work. The program is offered in Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and St. Louis. Sixty-eight fellows are chosen nationally each year through a highly competitive selection process.

As a Coro fellow, Kyla Moore will be placed in St. Louis. A native of Detroit, Moore is a Bonner scholar with a double major in Africana studies and politics and minor in theater. She has worked all four years on campus with Director of Wellness Lori Morgan Flood. Moore has enjoyed participating in the many communities in Oberlin, specifically the Africana community, theater community, and the Bonner Center for Service and Learning. She has been stage manager in Little Theater and in Hall Auditorium, working on Death of a Salesman. She performed the lead in the Little Theater production In the Blood by Suzan Lori-Parks. She was co-chair of Pseukay, the Africana student theater group; an event planner for Africana community celebrations; a student senator; a politics tutor; and a peer health advocate for the Center for Leadership in Health Promotion. Moore is also an Oberlin College Research Fellow and has received the Andy Cemilli Queer Research Grant for her summer research project. During a semester abroad in the Oberlin-in-London program, she volunteered for a Palestinian women’s rights organization.

Shayne Wells, a politics major, will graduate in May as vice president of the class of 2011. He has been selected as a Coro fellow in the New York City chapter.

Wells has been an Overnight Host Coordinator in the Office of Admissions since his sophomore year. He has also been a tutor in the politics department and in the Oberlin community at Prospect Elementary School. Participating in Immerse Yourself in Service, he spent his fall break rebuilding homes in Waveland, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina. He was chosen to participate in the Oberlin Initiative in Electoral Politics, in which he served as a field manager on Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s successful 2009 campaign. Wells has also worked closely with former Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty ’92 since 2005, when he volunteered for his mayoral campaign at age 15. During his junior year, Wells studied abroad in London with the African American Studies Department. After his semester abroad, he was a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University in summer 2010. Wells looks forward to being a Coro fellow and contributing to New York City community.

Kyla Moore

Shayne Wells



Beinecke Scholarship

James Purcell

The Beinecke Scholarship Program is awarded to 20 highly motivated college juniors of exceptional promise to pursue graduate study in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Each scholar receives $4,000 immediately prior to entering graduate school and an additional $30,000 while attending graduate school. Recipients may supplement the award with other scholarships, assistantships, and research grants, and are encouraged to begin graduated study as soon as possible following graduation from college.

Purcell, of Edmonds, Wash., is a fourth-year double degree student majoring in history and bassoon. He will undertake an honors project in history next year under the guidance of Assistant Professor of History Ellen Wurtzel.

Pending department approval, his honors thesis will be on a sixth-century nun rebellion in France — a topic he discussed in his ExCo, “Demystifying the Middle Ages.” He works in Special Collections in Mudd Library and co-hosts In Context, an international news analysis show on WOBC. In the conservatory, he is a member of the Oberlin Bassoon Quartet.

With the award, Purcell says he hopes to pursue a PhD in medieval history. “My advisors, Ellen Wurtzel in history and George Sakakeeny in the conservatory, have helped me make the most of my time at Oberlin and are fantastically supportive.”

James Purcell
(photo: Gary Cohen '11)



Charles J. Ping Student Service Award

Erin Swenson-Klatt

The Charles J. Ping Award recognizes and honors undergraduate students for their outstanding leadership and contributions to community service or service learning on their campus and within their community. The award is granted annually to one undergraduate per Ohio Campus Compact member institution. Those nominated to be a Ping award winner for their campus compete with other Ping nominees from across the state for a $500 mini-grant to be given to the community partner of the recipient’s choice. Swenson-Klatt has been awarded one of the five legacy grants of $500.

Erin Swenson-Klatt is pursuing a double major in history and environmental studies. She has interned with the Oberlin Heritage Center and the Lorain County Food Policy Coalition. She chairs Slow Food Oberlin and co-chaired the steering committee for Oberlin's first Food Week, held in March 2011. As a part of her work with food on campus and in the community, she traveled to Torino, Italy, as a U.S. delegate to the 2010 Terra Madre conference, and more recently to Washington, D.C., to lobby for sustainable agriculture programs with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. In her spare time, she also tries to keep tabs on other progressive organizations on campus, bake and cook for Pyle Inn co-op, and play violin and knit.

The grant will go to the New Agrarian Center, the home organization for the Lorain County Food Policy Coalition, and will be used for joint LCFPC and Slow Food Oberlin programming for the community and campus throughout the next year.

Erin Swenson-Klatt
(photo: Gary Cohen '11)



Jacob K. Javits Fellowships Program

Andrew Flachs

Jacob K. Javits Fellowships Program, a program of the U.S. Department of Education, provides fellowships to students of superior academic ability—selected on the basis of demonstrated achievement, financial need, and exceptional promise—to undertake study at the doctoral and Master of Fine Arts level in selected fields of arts, humanities, and social sciences. The awards cover tuition and fees and provide stipends for four years or until the fellows complete their degrees, whichever comes first. In fiscal year 2011, the maximum stipend will be $30,000 and the institutional payment is estimated to be $13,755.

Andrew Flachs will graduate in May with double degrees— a bachelor of arts from the College of Arts and Sciences, where he majored in anthropology, and a bachelor of music in saxophone performance from the Conservatory of Music. He will use his fellowship to earn a PhD in environmental anthropology at Washington University in Saint Louis. Flach intends to research small-scale food systems that minimize oil input. “I believe that learning how people conceptualize food and nutrition (because not everyone thinks in terms of calories) in these societies will be useful in the event that large-scale, oil intensive food systems collapse,” he says. “I plan to explore local food in Cuba, rural India, and Central Asia.” Flachs also received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach English in Ostrava, Czech Republic, which he had to decline to accept the Javits, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship honorable mention.

Andrew Flachs

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