JIM SOLAND ’02 WINS PRESTIGIOUS JACK KENT COOKE SCHOLARSHIP FOR GRADUATE WORK IN EAST ASIAN STUDIES
This fall, Jim Soland ’02 will enroll at Stanford University in a two-year master's program in East Asian Studies. Out of more than 1,000 nominees, Soland is one of the 77 recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship. Established in 2000 by the Jack Kent Cooke estate, the Foundation provides scholarships for exceptional high school, undergraduate and graduate students. Cooke—whose holdings included television stations, newspapers, the Chrysler Building, the L.A. Lakers and the Washington Redskins—donated most of his fortune to aid high-achieving students with financial need. Jim plans to use his new studies to launch a career in international healthcare.
Diagnosed at age two with diabetes, Soland served as a counselor at the Joslin Center Camp for Children with Diabetes, working with the organization’s communications department shortly after college. “Initially, my job placed me on the front line of communications: responding to e-mails from members of the public, many of whom had diabetes and suffered from the disease’s worst complications, including amputation, kidney failure, and blindness,” notes Soland. “What struck me even more than the severity of their conditions was that a significant percentage, particularly those from less affluent demographics, lacked access to the most basic of care, at times even insulin.”
Currently serving as a speechwriter and director of communications for Massachusetts State Senator Steven A. Baddour, Soland hopes to use his degree to help him shape international healthcare policy, specifically in China. “At the moment,” he explains, “few topics should rank higher on our priority list for U.S.-Chinese diplomacy than public health. With the first human cases of avian flu announced in November, not to mention the SARS outbreak, the U.S. needs a more comprehensive approach to relations with nations on health care.
“I’m largely interested in international health care and education policy, especially how developing countries can harness the positive aspects of globalization to expand education and how nations manage the health care crises that can accompany the transition from Third to First World status. Type 2 diabetes is an especially big problem as formerly agrarian populations suddenly start driving Hondas and eating McDonald's.”
Soland has come to the right place; Stanford hosts one of the few independent East Asian Studies programs in the nation. “Stanford is just about the only East Asian Studies program in the country that isn’t merely a conglomerate of classes originally created by other departments,” he notes. “There is a centralized facility devoted specifically to matters relating to Asia, language maintenance programs to introduce students to native speakers, and a lecture series that boasts the biggest names in the field. The international component to Stanford’s School of Education is also relatively unique.” Soland plans to take on some teaching, eventually moving into an Ed.D. program; however, he isn’t too worried about being on the other side of the lectern.“After all the years I’ve spent in the classroom already, it’s hard to imagine anything being too intimidating—I’ll at least enjoy that delusion for now.” After completing his graduate studies, Soland plans to continue teaching while working for a government agency, Non-governmental Organization (NGO), or non-profit such as the World Health Organization or the World Bank.
During his time at Haverford, Soland studied English, focusing primarily on Renaissance writers like Shakespeare and Marlow, as well as modernist texts. Outside of class, he worked in the writing center and played trumpet with a number of music groups, including the Bi-College Orchestra, a brass quintet, chamber orchestra, and the campus funk group Hiram. Soland notes, “Professor [Kimberly] Benston and Professor [Deborah] Sherman have both been incredibly helpful throughout the process. Given the sheer number of letters I asked them to write on my behalf, I’m beginning to wonder if they had to write more about me than I had to write for their classes.”
—James Weissinger '06