Students Recognized for Academic Achievements
Inspired by the story of a South African woman who had the capacity to forgive her son's murderers, Virginie Ladisch '00 became intent on learning more about cultural approaches to conflict resolution and reconciliation. Thanks to a Watson Fellowship, she has the opportunity to travel to South Africa and Guatemala to learn about different methods of peace and forgiveness.
Ladisch '00, one of just 60 students from colleges and universities throughout the United States to receive a Watson Fellowship this year, is spending six months in Johannesburg and Cape Town exploring South Africa's post-apartheid transition to democracy. To learn about the methods of peace and reconciliation that followed years of apartheid, she plans to interview the victims of human rights abuses, their families, witnesses, community leaders, alleged perpetrators, judges and lawyers. She also intends to analyze the impact of The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was designed to chronicle various human rights violations and propose solutions to promote national harmony.
Following her time in South Africa, Ladisch will journey to Guatemala City, Guatemala, where she will study how the people there are coping with the aftermath of a 36-year civil war. Much of her research will come from analyses of The Commission for Historical Clarification in Guatemala, created in 1994 to encourage peace and forgiveness in the war-torn nation.
"Although the goal is to learn how to unify polarized communities and build sustainable peace, the fellowship also offers a way to enhance my own cultural sensitivity and understanding," says Ladisch, the fourth Haverford student to receive a Watson Fellowship in the last six years.
While Ladisch began preparations for her trip abroad, Benjamin Huebner'01 returned from a year of studies at Pembroke College of Oxford University to accept his Truman Scholarship.
Harry S. Truman Scholarships provide $30,000--$3,000 for the senior year and $27,000 for two or three years of graduate study--to students who have shown a desire to pursue a career in government or non-profit and advocacy sectors.
"Haverford has not only instilled critical reasoning skills and an understanding of the complexities of policy issues but a desire to change the world around us," says Huebner, who has a history of service as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, a leader during orientation week and as an Honor Council representative.
A political science major, he wants to use his scholarship to pursue a law degree or a master's degree in public policy and, eventually, a career as a public prosecutor.
While working for Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont last summer, Huebner gained experience in public policy, designing policy options to promote environment-friendly agriculture. He researched ways to allow dairy farmers to use cleaner and safer growing techniques without decreasing their productivity or harming their business.
"It not only allowed me to witness the public policy process but participate in it," says Huebner.
Shelli Frey'01 has participated in research projects in Haverford's laboratories, and her academic achievement in chemistry was acknowledged with a Goldwater Scholarship. Selected from a field of nearly 1,200 mathematics, science and engineering undergraduates, Frey received $7,500 towards her senior year of education at Haverford.
A junior member of the American Chemical Society, Frey has spent the past year researching aspects of photodynamic therapy, a laser-based cancer treatment that lacks the serious side effects of traditional chemotherapy. In collaboration with Haverford's associate professor of chemistry, Julio de Paula, she discovered how porphyrins, ring-shaped molecules usually comprised of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen, bind with cellular structures, such as DNA, to produce singlet oxygen, the element that helps to destroy tumor cells.
Her research may benefit not only the future of photodynamic therapy but also the development of future cancer-fighting drugs.