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Emily Hinchcliff '08
Emily Hinchcliff '08

Emily Hinchcliff '08 Awarded a William Penn Fellowship

This summer, Emily Hinchcliff ’08 will take her love of science and volleyball across the Atlantic.

The biology major will spend the 2008-2009 academic year teaching, working and living at England’s Chigwell School as a recipient of the William Penn Fellowship. The Fellowship, named for Chigwell’s most famous alumnus, facilitates understanding between the U.S. and Great Britain through shared intellectual and cultural experiences and is offered annually to graduating seniors at both Haverford and Swarthmore.

“I will mostly be teaching biology,” Hinchcliff reports, “and perhaps some American history/politics, especially as it’s going to be an election year.” She’ll also act as a “dorm-mother” for the older students and international boarders, mentoring and advising, helping with homework, and getting involved with what Chigwell calls “pastoral” activities: “This means creating a home environment for the children and being as much of a role model, friend and confidante as possible.”

Hinchcliff, who this season led Haverford’s women’s volleyball team to the third round of the NCAA Division III Tournament and to a school record in victories, also hopes to start a volleyball program at Chigwell. “[2006 William Penn Fellow] Cathy Carbonaro (’06) was involved in starting the women’s soccer program there, so her advice will definitely be the starting point for me,” she says. “I have experience coaching, both my club team at home as well as for a Nike camp, so I’m sure that will come in handy!”

Additionally, Chigwell has asked Hinchcliff to spearhead a pre-med volunteer program similar to the one she started at Haverford; “Haverford in Hospitals” places students at Lankenau, Bryn Mawr, Thomas Jefferson, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It helps students who may be interested in medical school get some first-hand hospital experience,” says Hinchcliff.

She’s excited not only to be teaching and drumming up support for volleyball, but also to travel throughout Europe, on school trips and during her time off. “I’m also really looking forward to spending a long period of time abroad,” she says. “It’s an incredible opportunity to be immersed in another culture and be there long enough to truly appreciate it.”

Dean of Academic Affairs Philip Bean encouraged Hinchcliff to apply for the fellowship. “As someone who studied in England for three years, I think she will make a marvelous impression on the students, parents, and fellow teachers at the Chigwell School,” he says.  “All in all, she is an exemplary representative of what Haverford can offer to the world and what our students can contribute to making this an even richer learning and living environment than it already is.”

The William Penn Fellowship is just one of the honors Hinchcliff has received during her time at Haverford. In February she was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, which provides grants to student athletes across the country. Hinchcliff will apply her grant toward her medical school funds—she’s in the process of applying and plans to attend after her year at Chigwell ends. Her specialization has yet to be determined. “I have shadowed in many different departments, so a lot of different things look interesting to me. I think surgery is fascinating, so I may pursue that, but I’m sure everything will change and develop in medical school.”

In 2005, Hinchcliff received the Archibald MacIntosh Award, presented annually to Haverford sophomores who emerge as the top scholar-athletes in their class during their first year on campus.

Hinchcliff is also the recipient of a Beckman Scholarship, recognizing outstanding undergraduate research in the biological sciences. As a Beckman Scholar, Hinchcliff has been working in the lab of Professor of Biology Jenni Punt, exploring the cytoskeleton within mature and immature T-cells. The cytoskeleton behaves differently in each of these two cell types, and Hinchcliff and Punt believe this could explain why the cells’ disparate developmental stages respond differently to outside stimulation.

“It’s been such a great experience,” Hinchcliff raves. “Jenni is an amazing mentor and always knows exactly how to push you, and the research, while still being incredibly supportive.”

“Emily has been a force in the laboratory, in the major, and at the College,” says Punt. “She is exceptionally motivated, but also a motivator herself, and a natural leader intellectually and otherwise.  She never seems to run out of the energy to read papers, analyze data, conjure a new experiment, mentor younger students, or help out at athletic events. She is mature beyond her years as a young scientist and has the confidence and warmth to make her a beloved physician and a top class physician-scientist.”

-Brenna McBride

Founders Green on a warm spring day.

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