As last summer's humid months dragged past, senior Bradd Burkhart was busy researching a cancerous corn fungus, senior Abbie Robbins tried her hand at the radio broadcasting business, and senior Alex Phillips observed domestic violence offenders.
The projects and internships of these Washington College seniors were supported and funded by The Society of Junior Fellows, a group on campus "dedicated to the exchange of ideas." The Society holds presentations for its members and also helps to publish the Washington College Review, an annual collection of academic essays and poetry. The pillar of its financial, however, lie in outside grants that are awarded to students like Burkhart.
There is almost no request limit to what a student can to do, be it a newspaper internship, independent biology research projects, or observations of a foreign culture. This past year, nine students completed projects of their own design. Among those mentioned above, the students' projects were very diverse and sophisticated: Senior Ed Geisweidt gained literary experience interning at the Folger Institute in Washington, D.C., while senior Christina Turner helped study the behavior of a certain type of male mice, which may have benefits for the study of male impotence in humans. Senior Karen Sieger traveled to Ecuador to observe Galapogos turtles, an animal she has been fascinated with since a child.
Not all members of the Junior Fellows, which usually number to 50, are given grants to complete projects. Together with a college faculty advisor, students work on grant proposals that fit either their career, personal interests, or both. A maximum of fifteen grants are given yearly to students seeking to conduct research.
Members of the Junior Fellows feel the importance of their project was that it provided them with valuable job experience and the avenue to persue things they normally couldn't.
"The single most rewarding effect of my project is the peace of mind that comes with being less anxious about finding a job," said Jen Ward, who interned with both Time-Life Books, Inc. and the Maryland Gazette.
Dr. Davy McCall is entering his sixth year as Curator of the Society. He feels the value of the group lies in its perusal of ideas, original experiences, and possible career experience.
"The society is valuable to college students because it allows them to explore avenues that they may not have an opportunity to look into in depth without such a supportive system," Robbins said.
Senior Carl-Johan Nordberg, a junior fellow who traveled to Hong Kong to observe its transfer to Chinese rule, felt his experience was beneficial because it gave him the opportunity experience "a new culture, to live under a new climate, [and] to meet people with a completely new background."
The Society is currently accepting applications for new members. College sophomores and juniors who have have spent no less than two semesters at Washington College may apply. Other requirements for membership include a 3.5 GPA, and a strong background of leadership, community involvement and extracurricular activities during their college years. Applications must be received by September 26. For more information about the Junior Fellows, contact Dr. Davy McCall via BlitzMail or Campus Mail.